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Fireworks harmful to wildlife’s health: wildlife rescue centre president

The president of a Vancouver Island wildlife rescue centre is sounding the alarm about fireworks.

Warren Warttig of the MARS Wildlife Rescue Centre, says contaminants from fireworks have had profound effects on bald eagle populations

He added that even after the use of these materials was curtailed, background levels remained in the environment for decades.

“Because of this we no longer use these contaminants,” Warttig said.

He noted pets aren’t the only animals spooked by fireworks noise.

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“Research studies have shown that the loud sounds of fireworks do have an adverse effect on wild animals as well as domestic animals,” Warttig said. 

“In a recent study in the Netherlands, they found that roosting birds simultaneously exploded into the night skies in utter panic which can lead to high numbers of deaths, due to the birds flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other objects they could not see.”

Probably the most infamous example of massive bird deaths after a fireworks display was when greater than 5,000 dead or dying red-winged blackbirds were found on the ground in the morning in the small Arkansas town of Beebe in 2010.

He added that at MARS Wildlife Rescue, there is an increased caseload of wildlife patients and reports of death following the use of fireworks, particularly the Canada Day fireworks where a number of pre-fledgling eagles that jump out of their nests, end up in the centre’s care. 

“We have also seen a heightened level of agitation exhibited from all of the animals we have in care that last the entire day after the fireworks,” Warttig said.

“Given this information, perhaps it’s time to question our continued use of fireworks.”

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