Tips for keeping Halloween safe for wildlife

Many animals can become entangled in outdoor decor
Many animals can become entangled in outdoor Halloween decorations -- though pumpkins are...
Many animals can become entangled in outdoor Halloween decorations -- though pumpkins are encouraged to serve as treats once the holiday is over.(WTVG)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 7:56 PM EDT
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WHITEHOUSE, Ohio (WTVG) - Spooky season is upon us, and with it comes a renewed worry for animals making a more scary scene than intended.

Nature’s Nursery in Whitehouse takes in nearly 4,000 animals each year. They don’t get too many calls of critters stuck in holiday decorations, though there are plenty of examples scattered throughout the United States -- a country which spent an estimated $2.7 billion last year on Halloween adornments alone.

“I love Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday,” says Nature’s Nursery co-founder Laura Zitzelberger. “I love the decorations and everything ... but we do need to be cautious. A lot of times, those fake webs can become traps for birds and even smaller animals like squirrels ... so we do have to be careful about not overusing those, maybe keeping them to a minimum. I don’t think you really need to worry about an animal eating something they shouldn’t as far as plastic items go, but look at that item and ask, ‘Could an animal get entangled in that in some way?’ It’s just like with the yogurt cups we throw away which an animal could get stuck on their head, ‘Is this something that could become a trap for a wild animal?’"

Fake cobwebs are one thing ... sweet treats are another. Leaving candy out on the porch may be more common this year, and you should monitor through the night to make sure animals don’t partake. Some wildlife will go right for the pumpkins anyway -- though one trick to preserving those jack-o-lanterns can be risky.

“I saw a post on Facebook about some people rinsing their pumpkins in a bleach solution to make them last longer,” says Zitzelberger. “I would highly recommend against that, as animals will eat it and if it’s too strong of a bleach solution, it could make them sick.”

If deer tend to roam through your property, you may want to keep those light strings high enough to avoid their antlers.

“Just look at your ornaments and if you’re in an area where deer frequent, again ask yourself if it’s something they could become entangled in," Zitzelberger says. "Now you’re talking about something quite big, as opposed to a smaller bird you might be able to help get untangled.”

It may not be Halloween-related, but Laura has one final tip for folks winterizing a yard to help local fauna with their seasonal preparations.

“Don’t worry about being so neat," she said. "Leave some leaves out there. It’s great mulch for your garden, and makes a great place for insects to hide which provides food for birds and other animals.”

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