Fireworks: Impacts on Pets and Wildlife

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Questioning our Traditions

If you’re like me and millions of other Americans, you are settling in for the evening and preparing for the work week ahead. For my family, it’s like any other Sunday night, my husband is watching tv, the four dogs are littered around our small living room, occupying their favorite spaces and I’m holding onto every sweet little morsel of weekend I have left. I tend to be someone who is constantly on the move, so these evenings are a welcomed excuse to slow down and enjoy the peace. Unfortunately, for the next week and periods afterwards, my evenings won’t be so calm or peaceful. It’s July 1st and another American ritual is just a few days away: The 4th of July, the celebration of the birth of America aka Independence Day.

As a child, I loved this holiday, because America and I have something in common, it’s OUR birthday and for me that meant not only cake, but fireworks too. I loved deciding where we would go to watch them, arguing with my brother about who had the best displays, listening to the loud explosions with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” playing in the background and watching friends and family blow stuff up.

There’s a darkside to the lightshow that is fireworks, how it affects animals and humans both through traumatic sound and the mess left afterward

And while, as an adult, my love for my country has remained strong, my love for fireworks has changed. As I’m writing this, the whole typical Sunday night that I had described above has done a 180. My neighbors have started their personal fireworks display. There is no guaranteed start or end time and there’s no rhyme or reason to the frequency of the explosions. My 4 dogs have gone from their peaceful Sunday lull to panting, shaking, barking, and hiding. My timid, gun-shy, rescued foxhound won’t leave the doorway to go outside and, sadly, it will take us weeks to get her comfortable going out there alone again. Every sound is now suspect. The ice maker on the fridge, the tv, the microwave, and all of the everyday sounds that our pets have become used to have now become terrifying.


The Truth About Fireworks

At this point, I can’t help but wonder, if my domesticated dogs are feeling this way, how are the local wildlife dealing with it? My guess by the deafening silence on this warm summer night, not well. Research shows that fireworks have a profound effect on wildlife. Birds and small mammals will abandon their nests in fear, they can become disorientated and never return to their homes. As a result, their babies could face starvation or fall victim to predators. Wildlife shelters notice an uptick in calls as deer and other animals flee into roadways to escape the perceived danger.

Dogs are the most obvious and known example of how fireworks negatively impact our animal friends.

The debris left behind from the fireworks can entangle wildlife and poison them if ingested. Chemicals in the fireworks add toxins to the air and water that humans and animals both inhale and drink. Fireworks have also been the cause of forest fires. The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon burned over 48,000 acres and was unable to be contained for almost 3 months. The blaze was started by a firecracker.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way! The obvious best course of action is refraining from purchasing or using personal fireworks. However, if your holiday is just not complete without the sweet sound of explosions, join your friends and neighbors in a community sanctioned event. As always, some things are just beyond our control. So, if you find yourself living next to Joe-Bob Firecracker who’s been itching to blow up his mother’s prized watermelon, here’s what you can do to help our furry friends get through the war on watermelons:

The debris from fireworks can also affect aquatic life and the pollution levels of our water.

Remove or cover bird baths and feeders well before sundown, this will not only protect their food and water sources, it will also discourage birds from coming into the area. When the “rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air” cease, check the area for debris and clean surfaces or feeders that may have collected dust or other toxins during the festivities. This will help reduce the risk of fire or accidental ingestion by wildlife.

You can help your pets by keeping calm. They know when you are upset and that can make them upset. Closing the blinds and windows if possible can be helpful. Both cats and dogs can benefit from safe hiding spaces in your home to retreat to. Sound therapy, and pheromone wall plugins specially designed for each species can be effective when used properly. If all else fails, consult your veterinarian to see if medication is a proper course of action for your pet.

It certainly is possible to enjoy one of the best holidays of the year, while still respecting the needs of our furry neighbors. I hope this information has helped you, and that you have a fantastic, safe, and mindful Fourth of July.



Carolyn King

Sad thing is, the pets are just as frightened, if the fireworks are community sanctioned or not. A big Bang sound is a big Bang.

Jamie Romero

Reading this made me so mad! I can’t force these idiot people to stop what they’re doing when they come up to the canyon My Family and I live in from down in the S.F.V to set off they’re incredibly loud, and hazardous fireworks! I am powerless over their actions which is so frustrating!
I am even more angered at the fact that it affects our wildlife so much! These jerks, come up here to specifically get drunk, and set off their illegal fireworks, and then they drive away fast like cowards after they’re finished disrupting our wildlife, our family members, and instill fear in all the residents that a fire will start. I honestly am at a loss, angry, and do not know what to do!

John Schaack

I’ve been dealing with fireworks for over 2 months now every night. Scaring my dog my dog just can’t take it no more. Plus it makes me upset if there’s so many selfish people out there it don’t care about people’s pets. Or the wildlife out in the world.

Sally suder

So yesterday my butterfly bushes had various species of butterflies visiting. Today, after over an hour of high volume local explosions last night, they have not appeared. Bee volume is almost nonexistent. My cat went back to hiding after breakfast.
Don’t know how detrimental these explosions are on the delicate insect population. Anybody know?

Paquita Mora

I am agree Jamie Romero, I hope some day people stop to be ignorant, cruel, and selfish. God bless you.

Teanna L Byerts

When I was a kid in the 1960s, we went up on the flat part of the roof and watched the professional fireworks displays around the horizon, or went closer, to the fairground, to a park, and watched well done and safe displays put on by trained professionals.

Now the entire year has become a war zone of noise, pollution and panic among my animals… and myself wondering if the neighbors with their arsenal are going to set my hay field or house on fire. I also am over 65, have allergies and an autoimmune disease (inflammatory bowel disease) which can be exacerbated by pollution. I have livestock (ponies) that react with fear to things blowing up a hundred yards away. I have critical crop fields (hay) that can be destroyed by carelessness. I have friends with PTSD. None of us are OK with this “celebratory display” of blowing stuff up.

It is no on longer something that happens on Fourth of July evening, or New Year’s Eve. It is every weekend (and some weeknights) throughout the summer, and random other parts of the year.

It is NOT a personal freedom to cause danger for others, it is no longer a fun celebration for the rest of us. If you feel the need to blow things up, go to a shooting range and get training and keep your explosions to yourself, your video games and the odd action film.

By the way, I love superhero action films (and professional fireworks displays). For films, there are professional pyrotechnic experts… an entire crew… on set carefully rigging things so no one gets injured, no expensive stuff is damaged, and the expensive shooting schedule is not interrupted by “oooops”. The rest is CGI.

Why can’t we do this in real life?


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