Used Christmas trees feed, bring happiness to animals at wildlife institute

Gus the porcupine

The Atlantic Wildlife Institute in Cookeville, New Brunswick, hands out their Christmas presents a little later than most—right around when everyone else starts tossing their trees.

The Institute, which provides emergency and long-term care to wildlife from across the Atlantic provinces, gives these discarded Christmas trees to some of the 90 animals within their care. Certain animals, like Gus the porcupine, will use it to play with, tear apart, and eat. Others, like the bears, bobcat, foxes, hawks, owls, and crows that they have in their care, will use the trees to keep cozy in the cold winter months.

“It’s handy to have,” Pam Novak, the institute’s director of wildlife care, told CBC News. “It’s less we have to go cut down in terms of branches or other trees, so it’s an easy kind of fix for us in the winter months to give some more food and shelter for a lot of the animals here.”

Novak put out a call for the trees earlier in 2016, and she’s hoping to collect a few dozen from people in the area. So far, she’s seen a good response, though it should come as no surprise. After all, Novak says it’s not just the animals that benefit from recycling the trees.

“It helps people feel involved, too.”

It also gives the tree, which could otherwise end up in a landfill, another life after just a few weeks spent in someone’s home.

Yes, there are tree recycling programs you can contribute to in communities throughout the country, from the GTA to the Greater Vancouver Area. This year, the city of Calgary will join the list of locations for the first year ever, offering 16 designated depots where citizens can drop off their trees.

Even so, what could be better than saying your Christmas tree went to feed a porcupine or keep a bobcat cozy?