Finding a dead bird tangled in your fake spiderweb decoration is probably not the scary Halloween surprise you want this spooky season.
Wildlife hospitals often treat creatures caught in synthetic materials – we’re all familiar with the tragic image of a seagull with plastic soda can rings wrapped around its neck. Most people know better than to leave out litter that could hurt a critter, but even the best intentions can go awry.
Every year, holiday decorations present new challenges for unwitting birds searching for food and shelter. Possibly the most harmful decoration is, unfortunately, one of the most popular at this time of year: fake cobwebs. Ironically, the webbing that mimics a spider’s bug-catcher is great at snarling birds despite not being designed to catch anything intentionally.
In recent years, folks have found birds as large as owls caught in these unintentional traps. Non-bird animals like deer may also mistake the webs for food. Our official advice is to avoid stringing up fake cobwebs outside entirely and leave them indoors. If you choose not to forgo outdoor webbing, at least check the web twice a day for any entangled creatures.
You can further prevent a wildlife tragedy by properly disposing of any decorations involving loops or circles that should be cut or broken; otherwise, an animal could get its neck stuck in the loop and suffocate to death. Ensure any wire or string is wound tightly into a ball upon disposal. You can also place the wiring in a bag before throwing it out to keep it contained, should animals get into your trash. And, of course, keep an eye out for stray candy on the ground – animals may like it, but it’s certainly not good for them!
Fortunately, you won’t have to make too many sacrifices if you’re going for an animal-friendly yard. Pumpkins are practically synonymous with Halloween, so it’s pretty convenient that the decorative gourd is non-toxic and decomposes naturally. Anything that you can securely stick into the ground should also be safe.
So this year, when purchasing yard décor for the holidays, ask yourself: “Could this be hazardous to wildlife?”