October and November festivities is a time when many households and outdoor spaces undergo a dramatic transformation, with ghoulish decorations adorning the streets, skies illuminated by dazzling fireworks and crowded bonfire gatherings. While Halloween and Bonfire activities is a treat for humans, these festivities can have unintended consequences for wildlife. In this blog, we'll delve deeper into the effects of Halloween on birds, mammals and everything in between, including the potential dangers posed by bonfires to small animals like hedgehogs, and how organisations like Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital are working to mitigate these risks.
Halloween Decorations | A Frightening Sight
Halloween decorations are a treat for the eyes, with fake spider webs, carved pumpkins, and eerie adornments covering homes and gardens. However, these seemingly harmless decorations can be a nightmare for wildlife. For instance, discarded plastic decorations can cause birds and small mammals to become entangled in them, leading to injury or even death. Furthermore, the artificial lighting used in Halloween displays can disorient migrating birds, bats and other nocturnal mammals. Left over pumpkins or seeds can be enjoyed by some birds and mammals, however, if ingested by hedgehogs it can be harmful. It's crucial for homeowners to choose eco-friendly decorations, hang decorations responsibly, reduce artificial lighting and dispose of decorations responsibly to avoid harm to local wildlife.
Fireworks | A Nocturnal Nightmare for Wildlife
The dazzling displays of fireworks are an integral part of celebrations in October and November, but the loud bangs and bright lights can terrify wildlife. Nocturnal animals like owls, bats, and hedgehogs can become disoriented, with some even abandoning their nests or burrows. Birds, too, are vulnerable, with the noise potentially causing them to fly into obstacles or experience extreme stress. It is essential to be mindful of the impact of fireworks on wildlife and consider alternatives, such as silent or low-noise fireworks, and attend events rather than hosting your own back garden displays to reduce the distress caused to our feathered and furry friends.
Discarded Litter | A Haunting Legacy
One of the lesser-known consequences of Halloween festivities is the discarded litter that can accumulate in public spaces and natural areas. Sweet wrappers, plastic bags, fire works and sparklers and other litter can be ingested by curious wildlife, or causing injury or illness if they become entangled. Furthermore, this litter can disrupt the natural beauty of the environment and create an eyesore for those who appreciate the outdoors. Proper disposal of litter is an essential responsibility for everyone, especially during times of public events. Participating in local clean-up efforts can help mitigate this issue.
Bonfires and the Danger to Resting Hedgehogs
One of the most significant threats to wildlife during Bonfire season is the lighting of bonfires. These cosy fires, while enjoyable for humans, can be lethal traps for small animals like hedgehogs. Hedgehogs seek out piles of wood and leaves as potential hibernation spots. When they unwittingly choose a bonfire as their resting place, the consequences can be devastating.
Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, a dedicated wildlife rehabilitation hospital in West Sussex, plays a crucial role in caring for injured hedgehogs and other animals during Halloween and bonfire season. They urge people to check their bonfires for any signs of wildlife before lighting them. Some examples of what to look for include:
1. Nests or sleeping animals: Before lighting the bonfire, check for signs of hedgehogs or other small animals, such as leaves or twigs forming a nest, or the presence of the animals themselves.
2. Relocate wildlife: If you discover any animals or signs of nesting, carefully relocate them to a safer area, ideally a wildlife-friendly garden or a nearby wildlife hospital if necessary.
3. Build animal-friendly bonfires: Consider constructing your bonfire at the last possible moment to minimize the chance of animals seeking refuge in them.
4. Educate and raise awareness: Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital conducts educational programmes to raise awareness about the dangers that bonfires pose to wildlife. By supporting their initiatives and spreading the word, you can contribute to the safety of wildlife in your area.
Halloween and bonfire night is a time of revelry and fun for humans, but it's vital to consider the consequences it can have on the wildlife that shares our environment. From decorations and fireworks to discarded litter and bonfires, these activities can be a tricky time for our furry and feathered friends. Together, we can celebrate the season while safeguarding the well-being of our precious wildlife.