Aylesbury Vale residents warned pumpkin dumping after Halloween threatens wildlife
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Woodland Trust has issued an urgent plea to witches, wizards and spooks everywhere not to endanger wildlife by dumping pumpkins in Wendover Woods and other nature areas.
It has spotted a worrying trend in recent years for Halloween pumpkins to be taken to the nearest wood and left, in a well-meaning but misguided attempt, to provide food for birds and creatures.
“A myth seems to have built up that leaving pumpkins in woods helps wildlife. People think they’re doing a good thing by not binning them in landfill and instead leaving them for nature,” says Paul Bunton, engagement and communication officer at Woodland Trust.
“But pumpkin flesh can be dangerous for hedgehogs, attracts colonies of rats and also has a really detrimental effect on woodland soils, plants and fungi. We can’t leave dumped pumpkins to rot so we end up with an orange mushy mess to deal with at many of our sites.”
The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity has provided some tips on how spooky leftovers can be used for good on its website here.
Pumpkins can be used as a birdfeeder for the garden, which should be kept high off the ground well away from hedgehogs.
Trevor Weeks from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service added: “They are opportunistic eaters and they spend autumn and early winter building up their fat reserves for hibernation”.
“As a result, hedgehogs can gorge themselves on easily available food like dumped pumpkins.
"Although not toxic to them the fleshy fibrous fruit can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea as they are not designed to eat large quantities of fruit.
“This can lead to them becoming bloated and dangerously dehydrated which in turn can be fatal. At this time of year, they can’t afford to become ill, or they may not survive the winter hibernation.”
According to the trust, which owns and cares for more than 1,000 free-to-visit woods across the UK, the pumpkin problem seems to be starting earlier and earlier, with supermarkets flooded with cheap pumpkins for sale and pumpkin-picking growing in popularity as a family activity in the run-up to Halloween.