Thursday, 1 November 2018

Why Should Fireworks be Restricted?

SPOILER ALERT: Animals, Birds and Fireworks Don't Mix

I've just signed a petition on calling for a review of the current Fireworks Act 2003 and Firework Regulations 2004, to further restrict the use of fireworks to very specific dates, limit decibel levels, licencing of public displays etc. Here's a link to the petition if you would like to have a look at it and maybe add your name too.

Here's a look at the comment I left:

Most of my pets live inside so aren't troubled by fireworks, I also have chickens who are not bothered by them. But I really signed up because of the adverse impact on wildlife, the abuse of animals with fireworks, and the way it seems to have become appropriate to have fireworks at any outdoor 'celebration' throughout the year. This last one makes it impossible for pet owners and livestock holders to prepare their animals and birds for the Armageddon they are about to experience. If firework use was restricted to the two weekends and in between for Guy Fawkes Night celebrations, plus New Years Eve, at least people would know to be prepared. Also, noise travels - it's no good just letting your next door neighbour know that you are having fireworks, it affects a much much wider area than that, including surrounding wildlife and livestock.

Now lets talk about Fireworks and their effects a bit more:

My Guinea Pigs, who are kept inside, never react to fireworks, thunder or other loud noises from outside. Stompy the Tortoise is phased by nothing either.

The only ones I worry about are the chickens. The first year we had them I made sure they were shut away in their coop by dusk, and checked on them repeatedly during the evening, but they were always sound asleep on their fact I think I was disturbing them more than the fireworks were!

The following year I shut the coop up as soon as they went to bed, and checked on them after all the fireworks had finished (around 10pm), and they were suitably unruffled.

I am lucky though. I know many animals and birds are completely terrified by loud noises, and people have to deploy ways of helping their pet cope, some use distraction techniques like food and music/ radio, some use sedatives, and some relocate their animal altogether.

Disclaimer - I am not an animal expert, vet or animal professional. If you have a frightened animal or bird, seek professional advice now.

Things you can try for domesticated animals and birds:

  • Familiar surroundings and routine - This can really help keep an outdoor animal feel secure, and do try sticking to your regular routine, ie if you normally leave your horse/donkey outside overnight, then it may find suddenly being in a stable more stressful, and it could begin to associate its stable with frightening experiences, which obviously would be bad. Keeping companions together can also be beneficial
  • Distraction techniques - Guinea Pigs and Rabbits can easily be distracted by a big pile of hay or ReadiGrass, or maybe a puzzle toy.
  • If your animal or bird is used to the noise of tv and radio, you can leave one in earshot as this will help disguise sudden bangs and pops.
  • Check the environment - A startled animal can hurt itself and others badly, so make sure fences are secure, and that there are no hazards in the enclosure (indoors or out).
  • Speak to your vet about appropriate use of sedatives and other calming options. But remember that these usually have to administered well before the event.
  • Make sure you have insurance that covers you incase your animal escapes and causes damage to another person's property, injures another person's animal, or causes an accident etc etc.

If you are going to be having fireworks, please remember the impact you have on other people, pets, domesticated animals and birds and wildlife

Before lighting your bonfire, check it thoroughly for hedgehogs, frogs, toads, mice etc seeking somewhere warm for the night - you might give them more than they bargained for!

Fireworks can disrupt roosting birds, be aware of any Schedule 1 species that roost and nest in your area. They must not be disturbed!

Wild animals can be frightened by fireworks, making them suddenly run out into roads. Studies show that the numbers of road traffic/ wildlife related deaths increase significantly during November and December. Be extra vigilent when out driving near firework displays.

But - and here is why I really signed the petition:

Letting off fireworks is becoming more prevailant  all year round, making it impossible for owners, farmers and wildlife to take necessary precautions.

I'm not a killjoy, but I do feel that fireworks should be even more strongly regulated, and letting them off should be limited to certain dates and times, with fines being applied to people breaking these restrictions. Don't even get me started on the malicious misuse of fireworks!

I'd be interested to know what you think, so do leave me a comment.

PS: Me? I stick to sparklers 😉