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Canada’s Victoria Day ignites debate over fireworks’ effects on animals and people

Not all Canadians are looking forward to the massive fireworks displays associated with Victoria Day.

Ottawa Parliament Hill. — © Digital Journal
Ottawa Parliament Hill. — © Digital Journal

Not all Canadians are looking forward to the massive fireworks displays associated with Victoria Day, primarily because of concerns over the fireworks’ impact on pets, wildlife, and people with PTSD.

In Nova Scotia, retired veterinarian Hugh Chisholm has been trying to get the province to ban fireworks on Victoria Day and is one of the organizers of a petition that has garnered nearly 15,000 signatures on Change.org.

“I don’t want to be a curmudgeon that sits here and says, ‘You can’t have fun,'” Chisholm told CTV News last week. “The problem is that fun comes at a cost to others.”

Many dog and cat owners watch their pets run and hide in fear whenever the sound of fireworks can be heard. But larger animals and wildlife can be affected by the noise of fireworks, sometimes with dire consequences.

Chisholm’s petition was launched after a horse in Canning, N.S. broke its leg after panicking upon hearing New Year’s Eve fireworks. With the leg injured beyond repair, the horse had to be put down.

“Triggering such panic in livestock can also result in devastating financial loss due to veterinary bills, animal death, and human inability to work because of injury sustained while trying to handle panicking animals,” the petition states.

The sound of fireworks, along with the accompanying smoke can also trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among combat veterans as well as survivors of gun violence, according to the U.S. National Center for PTSD.

Drone show on Feb. 11, 2022, at the Taiwan Lantern Festival Credit – 人人生來平等 CC SA 4.0.

Alternatives to fireworks

In Banff National Park, the towns of Banff and Canmore in Alberta switched to using low-noise, low-altitude fireworks in 2018 in order to minimize the impact on the wildlife.

Another consideration is the use of laser light shows that tell a story. The lights are often captivating and well worth considering over fireworks.

Another great idea is the use of drones. The technology has come so far now that groups of 20 to even 2,000 drones can create spectacular light shows suitable for any type of celebration.

Several communities on the California-Nevada border are planning on switching to drone shows for their July 4 fireworks this year ahead of wildfire season, according to Reuters.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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