CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Halloween is over and some of us might still have pumpkins laying around.

Dumping your pumpkins in the woods is a bad idea. A naturalist from the National Wildlife Federation says it isn’t good for animals in the wild who will see the old pumpkin as dinner.

David Mizejewski said if a wild animal ate a pumpkin that was thrown into the woods, it could mess up their digestive system. He said wildlife needs habitat, not handouts. He also called it a form of littering.

“This time of year, folks who mean well often times will think, ‘well, let me take all of my old pumpkins, my old jack-o-lanterns and dump them in the woods for wildlife,” Mizejewski said. “Unfortunately, that’s not really a good idea.”

Mizejewski said it’s typically mammals that will take advantage of trashed pumpkins.

“Everything from potentially deer to sort of mid-size omnivores like racoons, maybe possums, things like that,” he said. “Rodents too. So like, squirrels for sure will come and eat on pumpkins as well as wild mice species.”

Mizejewski said if isn’t good for humans to eat, it isn’t good for them either.

“If you have painted your pumpkin, if you have coated your pumpkin in something that will prevent it from rotting, which is being more and more popular, obviously, those are not good things for wildlife to eat,” he said.

He said it’s important to protect natural and wildlife areas to keep the ecosystem clean and healthy.

“If you’re looking for something to do with those pumpkins, what I would recommend is to chop them up and add them to your compost pile,” Mizejewski said.

Mizejewski said you could also get rid of your pumpkins by donating them to local farms, animal facilities or zoos.

“Enrichment is something that accredited zoos do with their animals,” he said. “It’s giving them interesting things in their environment so that they, you know, have something to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.”

Mizejewski cautions to make sure there aren’t any toxins on the pumpkins if you choose to donate. He says one pumpkin may not hurt, but when hundreds or thousands of people dump their trash pumpkins into natural areas, it becomes a problem.

The National Wildlife Federation started a movement more than 50 years ago called “Garden for Wildlife” to help educate people on growing natural food sources.

For more information on that, click here.