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'This is not a treat' – New Forest National Park Authority warning over leaving out 'toxic' Halloween pumpkins

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PUMPKIN carvers have been warned not leave their hollowed-out Halloween decorations in the New Forest in the belief they're a treat for wildlife.

The national park authority has issued a plea that the pumpkins be composted or recycled, and urged those who see any in the Forest to pick them up.

An NPA spokesperson said: "Please never leave your pumpkins in the New Forest, this is not a treat for the wildlife.

The New Forest National Park Authority has warned residents not to leave their pumpkins in the New Forest
The New Forest National Park Authority has warned residents not to leave their pumpkins in the New Forest

"You may not know but they are toxic to the livestock and many other animals too.

"If you do see any dumped on the Forest, please stop and collect them. If you cannot, report to Forestry England on 0300 067 4600 with a 'what3words' reference if you have the app."

The NPA said the pumpkins could cause deadly colic or 'choke' to Forest livestock.

"Equines have long, narrow guts and small stomachs. If a hard piece of feed gets stuck in its journey along the gut it causes a condition known as 'choke'. The symptoms may emerge sometime after eating the item.

"In the case of semi-feral New Forest ponies and donkeys it is unlikely that this will be spotted, and timely treatment provided."

The spokesperson added: "Ponies and donkeys are creatures of habit. They will quickly learn to hang around for treats if someone feeds them. When this does happen not only is it often beside New Forest roads, drawing them to danger, but it badly disrupts their grazing habits.

"The grazing livestock must be able to nourish themselves all year round, grazing for much of the day on the varied diet of what the New Forest offers naturally."

The NPA also shared advice on how residents can dispose of their leftover gourds:

  • Add them to your compost bin
  • Bake treats such as soups or cakes
  • Grow next year's crop by drying out the seeds and using the rest by mixing it with soil to enhance it
  • Toast the seeds for a snack
  • Turn them into pumpkin bird feeders

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