Protecting wildlife during fireworks season by Keeping it Wild Trainee Eden

Hedgehog at Walthamstow Wetlands credit Penny Dixie

Fireworks can be an exciting part of cold autumn nights in early November. This year in lockdown record numbers of fireworks are being bought as public celebrations are cancelled. However, wildlife won’t be celebrating with us. Bonfires and fireworks can be dangerous to animals, frightening them, causing injury, and polluting the air for days after.

Everyone loves hedgehogs and with their populations already declining due to a decrease in suitable habitat, it’s important to look after them this fireworks season and have fun responsibly. A bonfire pile is a perfect home for hedgehogs and lizards, especially as they will be looking for a place to hibernate away from the cold weather. To stop them from getting burned, it’s recommended to build the bonfire as late as possible. The longer the bonfire pile is left standing, the higher the chance of a small animal crawling in. If you’ve already built your bonfire, don’t fret! What you need to do is dismantle it and move it to another place. This gives the animals a chance to leave and you know that no hibernating animals will get hurt once it’s lit. If you don’t have space in your garden, we recommend lifting up all the logs and leaves and using a torch to see if there are any animals in your pile and carefully remove them. Make sure to wear some gloves to protect you from getting pricked! If you do find any hedgehogs, don’t forget to record your sighting in our hedgehog map

Hedgehog curled up in autumn leaves

Hedgehog credit Tom Marshall

If you have hedgehogs in your area and you’d like to help them, you can build a hedgehog home, let your garden grow wild, build a habitat for the food they eat and lots of other things! Find out more here.

Fireworks can affect other wildlife like birds and horses, and ourselves. The noise from fireworks is particularly frightening, the only thing close to it is thunder and lightning (120 decibels) which is as loud as the fireworks that can be sold to the public. If you jump at the first firework of the evening, when you’re safe in your home, imagine what it must be like for animals outside who don’t know what's going on.

Robin

Robin credit Matthew Rich

Birds are known to panic when hearing loud noises and can abandon nests or colonies. In their panic, they can fly into things and injure themselves. Horses flee when scared, escaping through fences or impaling themselves on farm equipment. 

It’s recommended to not use fireworks near areas where wild or farm animals are. It is also an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to recklessly or intentionally disturb a Schedule 1 species, such as Barn Owls whilst in or near a nest during breeding season: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69

Horse at Hutchinsons Bank

Horse at Hutchinson's Bank credit Sarah Murton

To help wild animals this year, you can buy low noise fireworks. Alternatively, you can help by not lighting your own fireworks which helps to reduce the amount of pollution in the air - why not enjoy someone else's' from your window or from your garden.