Independence Day is here, and with it, millions of Americans will be celebrating through classic and time-honored traditions: grilling with friends and family in the backyard, hitting our favorite hiking trails and campsites, watching parades, and – for many people – enjoying fireworks displays. The dazzling sights and sounds can be an exciting experience for some humans, but wildlife perceive and react to fireworks in a very different way.
The sudden flashes of light and loud, echoing booms can be extremely stressful for both native and domestic species of wildlife. It may cause them to flee their natural habitats in search of shelter, placing them in harm’s way and leaving young animals unprotected and vulnerable.
Fireworks release a large number of contaminants into the environment, as well, including heavy metals, chemical pollutants, and particulate matter that may drift long distances from their point of origin.
It may be difficult for some people to imagine July 4 without fireworks, but low-impact alternatives do exist. Click below or visit the Center’s YouTube channel to watch a short video to learn about some of these creative and festive options.
If you do choose to enjoy fireworks this year, consider the following tips to keep both humans and wildlife safe:
- Check your local and regional laws regarding fireworks. Professional displays are often required to be held at a predetermined distance away from protected wildlife habitats. Consumer fireworks are banned in all national wildlife refuges, national forests, and national parks.
- Properly dispose of trash, litter, and food waste. Barbecues and campfires should be completely extinguished before leaving the area – if they’re too hot to touch, they’re too hot to leave unattended.
- Take advantage of fireworks displays organized by your town, city, or regional government agencies, and avoid using consumer-grade fireworks at home. The quality of professional fireworks displays is much higher compared to at-home products, and harmful effects are consolidated into a smaller area of impact.
However you choose to celebrate this Independence Day, thank you for keeping the health of wildlife and the environment in mind. Happy Fourth of July!