The bangs, flashes and fizzes of fireworks provide entertainment on Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and special occasions. But how do they affect surrounding wildlife and the wider environment?
Watching pretty pyrotechnics and indulging in toffee apples and sticky treacle on November 5th is a long-held tradition. Although these dazzling displays are delightful for humans, those of us with pets will know how stressful and scary they are for animals.
These bangs and bursts of light don’t just take their toll on our companion animals, but wildlife that we aren’t usually aware of as well. Birds are known to panic when hearing these loud noises, fleeing the scene so quickly that they can crash into buildings or trees. Some animals are so terrified that they even leave their young and struggle to find their way back to them.
Animals can also end up in unfamiliar or unsafe areas when trying to escape the thunderous sounds, like roads for example. Many animal charities and shelters tend to report increases in lost and injured animals when large firework displays are held.
On top of this, hedgehogs can snuggle inside bonfires before they’re lit, thinking they’re the perfect place to retreat. Other small animals like toads, frogs and newts may be hidden near garden bonfires. As you can see, this time of year can cause various issues for these animals that aren’t visible to us.
We’re all well-informed about the detrimental impact plastic has on animals, especially marine life. But plastic bottles, straws and fishing nets aren’t the only human-caused hazards animals have to navigate. The burnt-out remains of fireworks, used-up sparklers and empty packaging can also harm animals when not disposed of properly.
Air and Water Pollution
Fireworks are essentially chemical cocktails, comprising gunpowder, metal salts and oxidisers. Some of these substances can linger in the environment long after the show is over and even find their way into water supplies. Not only does this have implications for humans, but it can cause problems for wildlife and their habitats too.
Should We Ban Fireworks?
Is banning fireworks altogether the answer? A Canada Day celebration earlier this year decided not to use fireworks to prevent frightening nearby wildlife. Others places, like the town of Collecchio in Italy, are embracing quieter, noise-suppressing fireworks to minimise animals’ psychological distress.
What can we do to reduce adverse effects on animals and the environment during our celebrations? Avoiding backyard bonfires and firework displays, choosing friendlier alternatives where possible and properly disposing of equipment are a few ways we can make a difference.
If you care about animals and the environment, check out our “Why?” section to find out how going vegan can help.