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Wildlife rescue group wants Albertans to donate their real Christmas trees

Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth

WILDNorth, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation society in Parkland County, wants to put old Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths to good use.

Real trees can be used to enrich wildlife enclosures, the group explained in a Facebook post.

“The trees will dry out eventually, but even then they are useful for our patients,” WILDNorth manager Carly Stenhouse said.

“We do want our enclosures to be as natural looking as possible in order for the animals in care to be a bit more comfortable, but the trees also provide behavioural enrichment for our patients.

“We do everything we can to reduce stress while these animals are at our facilities,” Stenhouse explained.

Its website says the society is “committed to proper environmental stewardship and recognizes the important role we play in conserving Alberta’s native species through the services and programs we provide to the community.”

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READ MORE: Alberta rescue overwhelmed with 20% increase in wild animals 

Donated trees must be real, free of decorations, and no taller than eight feet.

“Mammals will hide among the pines or gnaw on bark, while birds enjoy the added cover and extra perches,” WILDNorth’s Dale Gienow said.

“Berries and pine cones will sometimes be attached to the trees, so animals can practice natural foraging behaviour.

“Unlike trees that are in your warm house that drop their needles very quickly, trees placed in our outdoor, non-heated enclosures can provide benefits for our animals for weeks or even months. Even fallen needles can be manipulated by small birds and provide additional stimuli,” Gienow explained.

Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees.
Animals at WILDNorth rescue and rehabilitation society enjoy some used Christmas trees. Courtesy: WILDNorth

WILDNorth does not offer pickup, but any trees, wreaths and garlands can be dropped off on their front lawn near the wooden sign post (and away from the laneways).

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The facility is about 30 kilometres west of Edmonton, north of the Yellowhead Highway, near Township Road 534 and Range Road 271.

Click here for more information and a map to WILDNorth in Parkland County.

READ MORE: How do I get rid of my natural Christmas tree in Edmonton? 

The City of Edmonton also has a Christmas tree collection and recycling program. Residents are asked to place their un-bagged tree (free of all decorations and screws) on its side next to their garbage by 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

When it comes to artificial trees, Edmonton’s Reuse Centre accepts them, free of charge, as long as they’re in a box including all parts. They’ll be offered to organizations and individuals for reuse.