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Hope for Wildlife overwhelmed by ‘amazing’ last-minute Christmas tree donations

Hope for Wildlife welcomes last-minute donation of Christmas tree donations
A wildlife rescue centre is overwhelmed and grateful for a last-minute blitz of Christmas tree donations. As Elizabeth McSheffrey reports, Hope for Wildlife recycles the holiday firs to feed and shelter some of its animals.

A Nova Scotia wildlife rescue centre is overwhelmed — and grateful — for a last-minute blitz of Christmas tree donations during the first weekend of January.

For the first time since it started collecting eight years ago, Hope for Wildlife was concerned it wouldn’t have enough evergreens for its winter patients, who use them as snacks, shelter from the wind and hiding spots while they heal.

“A lot of the tree lots apparently sold out and what we used to get is the tree lots would come and deliver 30 or 40 trees at once,” said Hope Swinimer, the organization’s founder.

“But that didn’t happen this year, so we extended it for the weekend and I can’t believe the amazing response we’ve gotten.”

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Members of the public packed the rehabilitation centre’s parking lot for hours on Saturday morning, bringing its count from just a dozen trees to well over 50 before noon.

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Hope for Wildlife is in Seaforth, N.S., a community about 40 minutes east of downtown Halifax.

READ MORE: Hope for Wildlife helps record number of animals in 2018

Hope for Wildlife cares for more than 4,500 wild animals annually and helps another 20,000 callers through its helpline. It also hosts weekly guided tours and offers educational presentations to communities and groups.

Swinimer said porcupines will likely get the most use out of the donated Christmas trees.

“They like to climb in them, they like to hide in them, but they like to eat them too,” she explained. “So the porcupine is our number one patient that’s really going to benefit from these and right now we have a lot of porcupines in.”

But others appreciated the spruces, firs and pines as well, including chipmunks, groundhogs and bobcats.

Hope for Wildlife sees large influx in injured fawns
Hope for Wildlife sees large influx in injured fawns

“We saw that they were looking for trees and we’re animal lovers ourselves, so we wanted to bring them in to help out,” said Shannon Moses, who brought in a tree for the first time on Saturday.

“It’s an excellent thing instead of putting them out on the curb.”

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Saravana Muthu said it’s the least he could do, and the beautiful ride to Seaforth was a bonus.

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“It’s a very good cause and they’re doing a very good job,” he told Global News. “I know it’s a very small contribution, a very small fraction of what they do.”

READ MORE: Hope for Wildlife caring for influx of orphaned babies

Hope for Wildlife will continue collecting Christmas trees until Sunday afternoon. Afterward, volunteers will start prepping the trees for placement in various animal habitats.

Swinimer said if you want to recycle your tree but can’t make it to the rescue centre, they make excellent backyard additions.

“They’re good to keep at home too if you have a piece of land… They offer a hiding spot for nature and a way to escape predators and that kind of thing.”