Lighting up the cold, darkening skies with a magnificent display of explosions is a popular and traditional way of celebrating Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and the New Year, but for our four-legged companions it’s hellish.  Our pets end up going hysterical or cowering under furniture. However, they are inside and protected even if they do not understand that. But what about the wildlife who live outside where there is no escape?

Well that is exactly what they try to do and fail because there is no escape for them, they panic and stress usually leading creatures to become injured, trapped or dead. Mammals flee due to the noise, leading deer to run into the road and putting themselves and the drivers’ life at risk. Some animals may sadly fall into ponds and in their panic not be able to escape. Birds will take flight from their roosts and collide into windows in their confusion.

A review of studies concerning the noise effect on wildlife was conducted by Shannon et al and found that wildlife behavior was affected with fewer animal numbers found in loud areas; an alteration in foraging and vigilance behavior; as well as ecological structures being counterfeited. Although this investigation was not focused directly on fireworks it highlights the threat of noise pollution to wildlife and noise is one of the main issues caused by fireworks

Bonfires are also a complication for wildlife, especially hedgehogs. As the cold Autumn and Winter months roll around hedgehogs search for hibernation spaces in leaves and logs not knowing of the danger they are in. People can unknowingly burn or kill the poor animals during their festivities and this is why the British Hedgehog Preservation urges people to build their bonfire piles while it is still well lit to ensure or spiky and amphibian friends live to see another Spring.

It is not only the events themselves but also the debris left behind containing chemicals remaining which can pollute, some cause physical damage to the fauna and bonfires can remain hot hours after the party has ended creating a hazard for any wandering animals.

Nevertheless this does not mean that you cannot enjoy your fireworks or bonfire display come the holidays because many have suggested that they are a kin to thunderstorms, a natural event that wildlife have to cope with. The message is that before you have your fun think responsibly and be sensible to minimize the impact on the wildlife. Do not have fireworks in areas where there may be large quantities of birds such as near a nature reserve. Put fireworks in an open area where no animals will have their habitats damaged. Dispose of all the litter and waste and aim to only have fireworks on main annual events. Go to an organized event where you do not have to take care of all these safety precautions. Or better still why not avoid the hassle and stay in the comfort of your home and comfort the dog.

By Tara Tate, Farringtons School