PETA to Gov. Noem: For the Animals’ Sake, No Fireworks at Mount Rushmore

Fourth of July Without the Bombs Bursting in Air Is Better for Wildlife, Group Says

For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2019

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Rapid City, S.D.

Following reports that fireworks may return to Mount Rushmore in 2020, PETA sent a letter today urging Gov. Kristi Noem to protect wildlife near the national memorial by celebrating Independence Day with drone shows instead.

In the letter, PETA notes that drones offer a stunning visual show without the deafening booms that can scare animals, including deer, onto roads, where they’re at risk of being hit by traffic; cause birds to panic and abandon their nests and their young; start wildfires, which kill animals who can’t escape the flames; and lead to other negative environmental consequences.

“Drone shows are quiet, safe, practically pollution-free, and so popular that they’ve popped up everywhere from Disney World to the Olympics,” says PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “PETA is urging the governor to make the monumentally kind decision to celebrate the Fourth of July in a way that protects Mount Rushmore and all the animals who live in the area.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Gov. Noem follows.

The Honorable Kristi Noem
Governor of South Dakota

Dear Governor Noem,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including thousands across South Dakota, regarding your recent announcement that fireworks could be returning to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 2020. I’d like to open a dialog about the safety of fireworks near wildlife. Please, would you consider celebrating with alternatives, such as drone shows, in order to protect the park’s wild animals?

As you may know, fireworks trigger stress, fear, and anxiety in wild animals. Displays can scare wildlife, including deer, onto roads—where they risk being hit by cars. The loud blasts have been known to cause birds to panic and abandon their nests and their young. Fireworks can also start wildfires, which can kill smaller animals—such as beetles and squirrels—who cannot flee quickly enough from fast-moving flames. Fires also decimate habitats and food sources and have been known to send ash into rivers, depleting oxygen and suffocating fish. Animals can ingest remnants of large fireworks or debris from them, possibly resulting in their death. And fireworks also release particle-laden smoke and chemicals, which contaminate the environment and can damage birds’ respiratory systems.

More and more event organizers are relegating fireworks to the pages of history books. Drone shows—which are safer, produce virtually no air pollution, and are growing in popularity—were used recently at Disney World’s Starbright Holidays show, the New Year’s Eve celebration over Sydney Harbour, and the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They’ve also been used at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, among other places. And Aspen, Colorado, officials are planning to move forward with a drone show this year.

We hope you’ll make the monumentally compassionate decision to celebrate without fireworks in the years to come. There are environmentally and wildlife-friendly progressive alternatives that will make for a memorable celebration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk


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