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  • Melanie

Fireworks - An Explosion of Animal Fear

a white lioness, Luna, holds a blue cardboard star on a green grass background
Luna enjoying her 4th of July - themed enrichment

Americans love to revel in the celebration of our country and many people will tell you the backbone of a July 4th celebration is fireworks! It is a multi-sensory experience with the sounds of booms, vibrant colors, and wafting smell of smoke. However, our animal friends do not love fireworks as much as we do! 

Two raccoons, Dunkin and Sweet Pea, look out of a wooden box at the viewer
Dunkin and Sweet Pea peeking out of their hide box

Animals have much more sensitive hearing than humans. While we love the pop and crackle of fireworks, these noises can cause fear and anxiety in wildlife and pets. The loud noises and bright lights can cause wildlife, such as birds, to flee. While in this flight response, they may enter unsafe or unsuitable areas, cross busy roadways, or they may abandon their nesting areas. What’s more, these colorful sky displays can lead to wildfires. It takes only a single ember to land in the wrong place to create a devastating effect on a wildlife population. In a matter of hours, thousands of acres can become engulfed in flames. These fires leave a trail of destruction, death, and barren charred earth. These fires decrease suitable habitation areas for wildlife and increase competition in areas where animals have sought refuge. When the pyrotechnics light up the sky, much of the fireworks gets destroyed during the explosion. However, there are always pieces of debris that drop to the ground. Wild animals and pets alike can ingest these, which can be toxic and a choking hazard. If you find injured or displaced wildlife that you think may need help, please reach out to your local licensed rehabber!

A sulcata tortoise, Tootsie, on a dirt background
Tootsie the Sulcata Tortoise

Just like wild animals, our domesticated pets can have adverse reactions to fireworks too. However, they are lucky enough to have humans able to intervene on their behalf ahead of time. Many pets go missing every year during July 4th celebrations because they get scared and flee. There have been instances of horses running through fences and dogs running away. If you know your companion animal is spooked by loud noises, please visit with your veterinarian ahead of the holiday to ensure he or she has any medications needed to cope with fireworks. While there, you will also want to make sure your pet is microchipped. This way, if your furry pal darts away during a raucous celebration, the likelihood of reunification is higher. Safer than microchipping, is making sure your pet stays safely secured indoors. You won’t have to go looking for a dog or cat if they don’t have the opportunity to go missing!

a bobcat, Ember, looks at white and red streamers on a red dirt and stone background
Ember enjoying his 4th of July - themed enrichment

Silent fireworks are becoming increasingly popular in efforts to help prevent scared and anxious animals. While not totally silent, these fireworks are much quieter and provide a more enjoyable experience for animal-kind. Instead of capping off your celebration with fireworks, you may consider throwing a party with glow sticks and party poppers. You will still need to make sure you dispose of the confetti properly, but you won’t have animals fleeing loud noises! You could even choose an alternative to a light show altogether. Consider hosting an American-themed movie night or just celebrate by spending the day at the lake. Celebrate the 4th and the freedom our country enjoys, but please try to do so in an animal friendly way.

Priscilla the 2-toed sloth looks directly at the viewer on a green background
Priscilla

Keep these important things in mind as you prepare for your 4th of July celebrations!

  • Consider using alternatives to fireworks (party poppers, glow sticks, confetti)

  • Clean up any leftovers or other debris from the celebration

  • Schedule a vet visit for your pet for meds & microchipping

  • Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and tags with current contact information

  • Keep pets indoors to keep them safe

Lily, a ringtailed lemur, looks at the viewer with her mouth open in the middle of making a cooing noise
Lily the ring-tailed lemur coos at the camera

Please reach out to us, your local game warden, or wildlife officer to assist wildlife in need. We can be reached via text at 903.636.3193, by call at 903.858.1008, or via our website here at www.tigercreek.org or www.awildlife.org.

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