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Loud Fireworks Affect Wildlife

fireworksAt the West Sound Wildlife Shelter, we’re often asked if fireworks have a detrimental effect on wildlife.

Research studies show that the loud sounds of fireworks do have an adverse effect on wild animals as well as domestic animals. The noise from fireworks causes a great amount of fear, stress and anxiety in wild animals. This fear often causes them to flee into roadways which results in more vehicle damage (from large animals such as deer) and an increase in dead animals. During times of widespread fireworks use, the Shelter receives an increase in calls from the public reporting wildlife on the roads and wildlife being seen in unusual areas.

Other documented effects include nesting birds and other small mammal parents abandoning their nests leaving their defenseless babies behind. The panic can sometimes cause so much disorientation that wildlife parents cannot locate their nests and their babies die. Panic and disorientation from fireworks noise has also resulted in birds flying into windows and buildings, or too far out to sea to escape the noise. Waterfowl become entangled in remnants of large fireworks, or ingest pieces, and scavenging animals (both birds and mammals) ingest debris, usually resulting in death.

Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.

And now for the good news. It is still possible to enjoy personal fireworks without endangering our backyard inhabitants. While it’s best to avoid personal fireworks at home and enjoy a local city celebration instead, common sense safety tips and responsible behavior can minimize the dangers to wildlife if you do choose to celebrate with your own fireworks.

  • Remove bird feeders and bird baths several hours before lighting fireworks. This will discourage birds from being in the area and ensure that no ash, debris or other firework residue inadvertently lands in birdseed or drinking water. If it is not possible to remove the feeders or baths, cover them prior to using the fireworks or thoroughly clean them afterwards.
  • Wait until well after dusk to ignite fireworks. Late evening and twilight is a prime feeding time for many animals, but after it gets much darker there will be far fewer animals nearby to be affected by the fireworks. 

  • Do not use fireworks near trees, bird houses, nesting areas, rookeries, brush piles or other sheltered areas where wildlife may be living. Small animals may be invisible under dense cover, but the effects of fireworks used nearby can be drastic and may scare them into the open. Keeping the fireworks away from these areas also reduces the risk of fire from stray sparks or not-quite-extinguished fuses or debris.
  • Clean up all firework residue promptly and thoroughly, including trash, spent casings, bits of paper, used matches and ash. Firework debris can still contain toxic chemicals and other poisons that can harm animals that may ingest them.
  • Follow all the proper fireworks safety tips to keep friends and family members safe; many of these common sense safety tips can also protect pets and nearby wildlife, from unnecessary trauma or injuries caused by fireworks.
While fireworks can be dangerous to wildlife, it isn't necessary to completely eliminate these summer sensations from personal backyard parties. Enjoy them responsibly and keep the amazing local wildlife safe from harm.

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