Recycle Your Christmas Tree To Help Wildlife

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Every year, over 25 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States and used for decoration in homes – but they can have a purpose after the holiday too.

Christmas is over and you are taking the ornaments, lights and tinsel off the tree. Before you toss your Christmas tree to the curb, consider donating it to wildlife. Many animals benefit from recycled trees that they use as a toy or a home.


A big cat sanctuary in Jacksonville, Florida is asking locals to donate their live Christmas trees to be used as toys for the lions and tigers. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary states that people can drop their chemical-free natural trees at the front gate. They ask that all lights, ornaments and tinsel are removed. They will be accepting trees through January.

The sanctuary posted, “The REAL gifts come AFTER Christmas for our big boys and girls. Drop off your clean Christmas tree (no ornaments, tinsel or chemicals, please) at the front gate, and we’ll do the rest. Come see us Wednesdays – Sundays (we’re open on Sundays through January), so we can thank you in person!”

They are extending their hours to be open Sundays through January for people to come and see the tigers and lions play with the donated trees. Apparently, tigers and lions love the spell of pine too. It is an environmental and animal friendly way to dispose of old Christmas trees.

Photos: Facebook/Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary


Other states are asking residents to donate their Christmas trees for fish habitats. Old Christmas trees are bundled before they are submerged into lakes. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is accepting trees through January 15. They also ask that the tree is free of all decorations before donating. They ask that people do not toss their trees into the surrounding lakes. The department bundles and disperses the trees where they are needed.

The branches create a habitat for young fish that attracts food and acts as a barrier. Staff with the department submerge the bundle of trees into lakes around the state. They also help restore lakes that have suffered from natural deterioration and prevent erosion.

Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

If you have space in your own backyard, you could create a habitat and food source for wildlife. Winter is a time when food is scarce, so you could decorate the tree with edible fruits, Cheerios, raw peanuts and pinecones covered in bird seed. Then sit back and watch all the birds and squirrels devour your decorations.

No matter where you live, there is a way to recycle your old Christmas tree. Find a local restoration project near you to donate your tree. Contact your local Fish and Wildlife Resource or look for an animal sanctuary in your area. Another use is to compost it and spread the needles over your garden to enrich your soil. Whatever you choose, the animals thank you for recycling.

Watch the video below to see how Christmas trees help fish and lakes.

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who lives in West Michigan. Her horse and 3 dogs are her children. She loves to write and share her knowledge of equine and canine nutrition. In her spare time she likes to volunteer with animal rescues, camp with her husband and dogs, and trail ride with her horse.
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