Sprucing things up: Old Christmas trees become new homes for injured animals

With the season of giving coming to a close, a Nova Scotia wildlife rehabilitation centre has found a resourceful way to recycle Christmas trees and extend the warm spirit of the holidays.

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The Hope for Wildlife Society in Seaforth, Nova Scotia is asking locals to donate their retired evergreens to help provide shelter for injured and orphaned animals living at the centre.

“For the special trees that haven’t been treated, it’s actually food for our porcupines,” the centre’s founder, Hope Swinimer, told CTV Atlantic.

Swinimer and her team of volunteers have nursed injured animals back to health for nearly two decades at the centre, located about 40 minutes east of Halifax.

More than 250 different species – including owls, white-tailed deer, raccoons and foxes – have been taken in by the facility, given medical care and released back into the wild.

But when winter arrives, the animals need a warm refuge from the cold. Since the pens limit the animals from burrowing, the centre needed to find a way to provide protection from the brutal winter conditions.

The answer, Swinimer discovered, was Christmas trees.

“It enhances their natural environment but it also acts as protection from the cold winter,” she said.

A great horned owl named Boo had his cage spruced up by torn-up branches to help block out the wind and snow. Other animals have their enclosures walled in by Christmas trees, creating a dense natural barrier.

The centre put out a call on Facebook inviting anyone nearby to drop off their trees. In return, the centre offers to take guests on tours and introduce them to the approximately 100 animals on site.

“We thought it would be a good tradition for the kids,” said Krystal Denney after dropping off her family’s tree.

“I heard that they needed some trees here for the wildlife, so we just decided to grab our tree and our mother’s tree and bring it on down,” said Nova Scotian Ryan Barker.

The centre has collected Christmas trees in past years and has come to rely on the donations; in fact, the only trees remaining before this year’s donations were last year’s trees.

Swinimer says the centre needs about 200 trees to get through the winter, and that the goal will likely be reach by Sunday.

The organization says it has helped more than 20,000 injured and orphaned animals and grown to a team of over 100 volunteers since it began in 1997.

With files from CTV Atlantic



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