FORT MYERS, Fla — Independence day is a time for celebration. However celebratory fireworks on the beach can be harmful to the animals that live there.
According to Florida Audubon, Florida's coastal beaches are home to east Terns, Black Skimmers, Wilson’s Plovers, Snowy Plovers, and American Oystercatchers. Loud fireworks can cause these birds to panic and abandon their nest, leaving chicks to scatter and exposing them to predators. These displays often leave chicks starving, eaten or overheating.
Florida Audubon warns people that the debris from the fireworks litter the beach and can be mistakenly eaten by sea turtles, chicks and other marine animals. The organization wants you to enjoy your celebrations while being mindful of the surrounding wildlife by:
- Give nesting birds at least 100 feet of distance or as much as possible. Signs or people will alert you to these areas.
- Avoid walking through flocks of birds on the upper beach.
- If pets are permitted on beaches, keep them leashed and well away from birds.
- Remove trash and food scraps, which attract predators that will also eat birds’ eggs and/or chicks.
- Do not drive on beach dunes or other nesting areas.
- Attend a municipal fireworks show instead of deploying personal fireworks.