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Fireworks are being blamed for the recent deaths of 5,000 birds in Arkansas. The professional-grade explosives scared red-winged blackbirds and European starlings out of their nests and sent them into panicked flight. The night-blind birds crashed into houses, signs, and other obstacles, causing blunt-force trauma and death.
As this case shows, fireworks displays are disastrous for animals. Besides being frightening, fireworks produce plumes of smoke that are harmful to animals’ respiratory systems and pollute standing water. The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s fireworks display after a 2006 show caused nesting seabirds to flee their nests and abandon their chicks. Fireworks are also being blamed for the deaths of about 50 birds found dead on a street in Sweden earlier this year. Animal shelters also report an increase in the number of lost animal companions following fireworks displays. Many animals go missing because they panic and jump over fences or break chains; some even jump through plate-glass windows in order to get away from the terrifying sounds.
You can help birds and other animals by asking officials in your town to ban fireworks and switch to laser light shows, which provide all the awe of fireworks displays but are more affordable and kinder to animals and the environment.
Written by Michelle Sherrow