While pumpkin carving is a beloved Halloween tradition, the BC Conservation Officer Service is encouraging residents to be mindful of their potential to attract bears.
Since bears are currently preparing for winter, they are experiencing hyperphagia, or an extreme urge to eat, according to the BCCOS.
That’s why the conservation service is encouraging people to only display their carved pumpkins through windows, or only take them out on Halloween day before removing them once again.
The pumpkins, like unsecured garbage, birdseed, and pet food, can potentially draw bears to residential areas.
“It is important to limit the length of time your pumpkin is outdoors, especially if you live in a neighbourhood with bear activity,” said the BCCOS in a social media post Friday.
“If you must put your pumpkin outside, the BCCOS suggests doing this on Halloween night only, and bringing them inside at night before disposing of them properly,” it added.
Earlier this fall, the BCCOS warned that there had been a “dramatic increase” in bear encounters this year.
Over the month of August, for example, conservation officers received about 6,000 complaints of bears – nearly double the average of around 3,550 during the same period last year.
Decoration safety risks
The B.C. SPCA is also encouraging residents to be mindful of their Halloween decorations and how they may affect wildlife this year.
Decorations like fake spiderwebs along bushes and trees can entangle birds, causing distress and possible injuries.
“The fibres get sticky and it’s tough for those little birds our at Halloween,” Breanne Beckett, senior manager for Victoria area, said.
The SPCA recommends that people avoid hanging fake spiderwebs altogether, or find an alternative.
District of Oak Bay councillor, Hazel Braithwaite, switched to beef netting four years ago after seeing posts about the negative effects of fake webs.
“It’s made of polyester, or polyester cotton, and birds can land on it, take off from it and no bugs get caught in it,” Braithwaite said. “It works really well, and the best part is it’s reusable.”
She said her family orders the beef netting from the United States, but has started to see it in local stores.
If you do find a bird entangled in fake webbing, the SPCA recommends that you gently separate the fake webs with your hands, or cut around the webbing to free the bird. Do not pull the bird out directly, as this can cause further injury.
Beckett said residents should also be careful about leaving candy out on their front porch as it can attract wildlife and harm any animal that consumes it.
The SPCA says that you can always call its animal helpline if you need wildlife advice at 1-855-622-7722.