Americans may have to celebrate July 4 without fireworks in one Connecticut town -- so they can protect the national emblem of the United States.
A couple of bald eagles returned to Columbia Lake last summer for the first time since 1992. This spring, an eaglet appeared. The bird has been living in a nest near the water, 100 feet above the ground, The Associated Press reported.
Brian Hess, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has voiced concerns about the future of eagles in the neighborhood, should fireworks be set off.
He fears the sound of the explosions could cause the baby bird, who cannot yet fly, to fall out of the nest. “Eagles and fireworks are both sort of this great American tradition, but I can’t think of a more perfectly startling thing than a firework,” says Hess. If the eagles leave the nest, it is not likely they will return. Eagles typically mate for life and spend years returning to the same nesting site.
Although fireworks are illegal in Connecticut, it doesn’t stop the lake-side residents from spending thousands of dollars to set them off in celebration of the holiday.
This year, “the resident trooper will be the enforcement agency to make any finds concerning illegal fireworks,” says Mark Walter, town administrator. Anyone found to have set off fireworks leading to harm will be prosecuted and could face fines and jail time. “The DEEP will be available for dispatch if needed,” says Walter.
Even with precautions in place, not all residents have faith in the community. Janice Thibodeau has lived on the lake for 28 years and is accustomed to the yearly fireworks displays. Thibodeau says although the local homeowners association sent out a letter urging everyone to refrain from setting off fireworks, she fears some people will ignore it and go on with their celebrations as planned.
“I would not be happy if something happens to that eaglet,” says Thibodeau. “I hope maybe they can just wait and shoot them off for Labor Day.”
Hess says the eaglet will likely learn how to fly in a few weeks and leave the nest sometime in August.
Bald eagles are no longer considered an endangered species but are still at risk. They are protected by federal and state laws because of their unique status as a symbol of the nation, according to Hess.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.