While the snow may be covering up your pumpkins from Halloween, you’re not going to want to forget about them. 

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is urging people to not discard pumpkins into forests or natural areas.

Mhairi McFarlane is NCC’s director of science and stewardship. McFarlane says while it may sound like a green idea, throwing your pumpkin in the woods could unintentionally result in wildlife becoming sick, in addition to other people choosing to dump debris.

“Causing animals to congregate around an unnatural food source can put them at greater risk of transmitting disease, and if the site is close to a road, can increase their risk of being struck by vehicles, which can also injure motorists. While pumpkins may be tasty and attract animals such as deer, moose, raccoons and squirrels they do not require additional food,” McFarlane said.

The recommendation is to compost the pumpkin at home or take advantage of local composting initiatives. This can keep the pumpkins out of the garbage and landfills. She says contacting local farms, wildlife rehabilitation centres and zoos are also great options as they may take the pumpkins for animal food or enrichment.

McFarlane reported that some people have unfortunately dumped pumpkins on NCC conservation lands and although organic material will decompose, it can take some time and be unsightly for others. She points out dumping anything on private land is illegal, and it can encourage others to dump additional items, which may not decompose.