RSPCA fears firework problems could be worst in decades

The RSPCA fears this fireworks season could be the worst in decades for animals as more people opt for DIY displays at home as public events are cancelled because of the coronavirus.

Hedgehogs are among the animals at risk from bonfire being built for DIY firework display
Hedgehogs are among the animals at risk from bonfire being built for DIY firework display

A survey by the animal charity says that 21 per cent of UK adults plan to hold a fireworks display at home this year.

It says that horses and livestock can be particularly at risk, getting spooked and being at risk of injury running into fences and gates.

Every year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about fireworks affecting animals. Over the last four years, the animal welfare charity has received 1,543 calls about fireworks.

In 2019, the charity launched its #BangOutOfOrder campaign calling for tighter controls and regulations around the sale and use of fireworks in a bid to help people and animals who suffer with fireworks phobias and noise aversion.

The campaign is calling for: The restriction of the private use of fireworks to agreed traditional dates; The maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale to be reduced to 90 decibels and that all public fireworks displays should be licensed by the relevant licensing authority.

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: “We understand that people enjoy celebrating Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and other key dates with fireworks and we don’t want to spoil the fun.

"Due to the firebreak lockdown measures this year, there won’t be any organised, public displays and we suspect this means lots of families will be choosing to have their own displays at home.

"We fear that there will be lots of little displays taking place over weeks and weeks, spreading out fireworks noise and causing prolonged distress for animals.

“We’d urge people to be considerate and keep neighbours with animals, including those with nearby horses and other livestock, informed of plans well in advance so they can make preparations to reduce the stress to their animals.”

“Fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for lots of animals. But they can also cause very serious injury and even death to some.

“It can be particularly dangerous for horses and livestock who can be spooked by the loud bangs and bright flashes of light, putting them at risk of injuring themselves on fencing, farm equipment or fixtures and fittings within their housing. The British Horse Society reports 23 deaths and 166 injuries in horses due to fireworks incidents since 2010.

“Wildlife can also be seriously impacted by bonfires and fireworks. Wild animals, like hedgehogs, are at risk of being burnt alive after making their homes inside bonfires and piles of leaves, while some birds will flee their nests or whole colonies can disappear due to noise disturbance.”

  • To support the #BangOutOfOrder campaign, visit the RSPCA website.

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