By Samantha Sander, DVM, Dipl ACZM
As the Fourth of July draws closer, many communities are actively preparing for their annual festivities. Patriotic fanfare coupled with the shimmering lights and booming explosions of fireworks are honored traditions often synonymous with Independence Day celebrations. Unfortunately, these celebrations can be quite harmful to local wildlife.
Fireworks in particular can be hazardous, startling any number of species to display abnormal behaviors and movements. Wildlife have been documented fleeing into public spaces and across roadways, flying into buildings or other obstacles, and abandoning nests as well as their young. This extreme flight response can cause injury and death, increased exposure of young to predators, and a stress response so severe it can cause death to the animal. Fireworks and firecrackers have also been blamed as a source of litter, which can be a choking hazard and toxic if ingested, as well as starting wildfires, which can cause extreme habitat destruction in some cases. These extreme responses aren’t unique to wildlife – fireworks celebrations have triggered PTSD episodes in people, overwhelmed individuals with sensory sensitivities, and are associated with a marked increase in runaway pets each year. Continue reading