Tips for recycling your old carved jack-o-lanterns

DAYTON — Nearly half of Americans have a pumpkin and plan to carve it. But what do you do when your pumpkin begins to shrivel up?

According to the National Retail Federation, the cost of pumpkins, in some places, is up more than 30 percent so a lot of us want to hold on to their gourd as long as possible.

There are social media posts that suggest consumers feed the winter squash to wildlife after it wilts, or you are finished with it. In speaking with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division, there are a lot of good options, including turning hour old jack-o-lantern into a feeder.

“You can put bird seed in it. It’s fund to see small birds like Chickadees fly in and out of the mouth. Even a squirrel can go in and get seeds,” Brett Beatty said.

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Beatty said birds, squirrels, and chipmunks like pumpkin seeds. Some critters, including deer and chickens also like the meat or the inside of the pumpkin too.

If you want to feed the squash to wildlife, Beatty said to cut it up and don’t keep the scraps close.

“Mice and other things you wouldn’t want in your home could be attracted too. So, put it as far away from a home at a distance so it can still be enjoyed but wildlife will not be up close to your home,” Beatty said.

He also suggested putting the pumpkin on something high like a post so animal can’t reach it. Another option doesn’t include animals at all.

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“Composting. I do a lot composting and reintroducing it to the garden and flower beds. Share with a neighbor that does it so it all does not go to waste,” Beatty said.

Beatty said regardless of what you do with your old jack-o-lantern choosing a real fruit is safe for wildlife.

He said some curious animals get caught up in plastic pumpkins leaving them in a scary situation.