August 20, 2019

Maine Audubon Says Fireworks Will Drive Piping Plovers Off Nests

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The Maine Audubon is pushing the envelope on this one stating that legal use of fireworks in areas where nesting piping plovers occur, will further threaten the species by forcing the bird from their nests. They have very little credible evidence to suggest this to be true, however Maine only recently legalized fireworks.

The new fireworks law gives allowance to municipalities to ban the use of the fireworks. Kennebunk is one coastal town that Maine Audubon is concerned about and is supporting an upcoming referendum vote to ban use of fireworks in that town.

Manufacturers of the products say that fireworks safety in misrepresented and that claims of threatening migrating and nesting birds is unfounded.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the safety of fireworks,” Wiemer said Thursday, but “this is the first time I’ve heard the argument about migratory birds.”

He said he’s anecdotally aware of places in the country where firecrackers and other related products have been used to scare away pest birds from residences, crops or aquacultures, and he said in those cases the practice is ineffective unless the small explosions happen in “very close proximities to the birds.”

“I just don’t think it’s a valid argument [to outlaw fireworks because they might scare away birds] unless people are firing the fireworks directly at the birds,” Wiemer said. “I don’t think you’re going to scare away birds with fireworks unless you’re intending to scare them away.

States have used fireworks for many years before Maine’s new law and generally speaking there’s not a whole lot of argument that can reasonably be made about public safety, as it pertains to legally purchased fireworks. There also exists no information about threatening birds.

However, being that I live in a state where use of fireworks has been allowed for many years, I can say that public safety and wildlife is of little concern. What is most troubling is the prolonged disturbances lasting 24 hours a day for several days leading up to a major event, i.e. New Years or July Fourth. It doesn’t take long to learn to build up a serious dislike of the nuisance things.

Depending upon the amount of use that Maine residents will see, will depend upon how quickly other towns move to ban or limit the use of them. Fireworks have their purpose and can be fun but I think restricting where they can be used and perhaps when and/or the duration leading up to a holiday or celebration might also be in order if it becomes necessary.

While Maine Audubon is notorious for treading all over people’s rights in attempts to protect birds and other wildlife, it is my opinion they are stretching the envelope on sensible reasoning on this one.

Tom Remington

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