Fireworks discouraged in CT town to protect bald eagles - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Fireworks discouraged in CT town to protect bald eagles

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DEEP fears fireworks could be a danger to a baby bald eagle in Columbia. (Ken Koper) DEEP fears fireworks could be a danger to a baby bald eagle in Columbia. (Ken Koper)
A bald eagle sits in a tree in Columbia on Tuesday morning. (WFSB) A bald eagle sits in a tree in Columbia on Tuesday morning. (WFSB)
COLUMBIA, CT (WFSB) -

Fourth of July celebrations in Columbia could interfere with efforts to protect bald eagles in the town.

Earlier this month, the town sent out a letter to people who live around Columbia Lake discouraging them from launching fireworks.

"They dive in the lake and we watch them pull fish out and they sit in our trees," said Shirley King of Columbia. "They're really very special."

King said she's lived in the town all of her life. She was excited to welcome the birds to the neighborhood.

"We've had the adult eagles out here for several years and they've been working on their nest," she said. "This is the first year the egg has hatched."

The species returned to Connecticut in the 1990s. These eagles first arrived to Columbia last summer.

"As you may know, a family of bald eagles joined your neighborhood this spring," wrote Brian Hess, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "Sometime in mid-July the chick from that nest will take her first flight."

The birds can be seen along Sleepy Hollow Road. The nest is high in the trees.

See photos of them here.

Hess went on to say DEEP's concern was that fireworks from the upcoming holiday may disturb the eagle.

"While both eagles and fireworks are well-incorporated into the imagery of American patriotism, in actuality, fledgling eagles and fireworks do not mix," he continued. "Fireworks will be a threatening new experience for the chick, and she will likely be startled by the light, sound and unpredictable timing."

Hess said the chick was large, but not able to fly. He said the chick may jump or fall from the nest without the ability to glide safely to the ground. Once on the ground, she could then become prey for animals.

"If she falls out of the nest, she's prey to coyotes or anything else and we don't want to lose her," King said. 

"To protect the chick and encourage her parents to return next year, please do not set off fireworks during the Independence Day holiday," he said.

Hess said eagles are protected from disturbance while nesting by federal law and state statute.

Anyone found to have set off fireworks leading to harm could be prosecuted and could face fines and jail time.

"Everyone participates in the fireworks!" said Christina Albano of New York. "It's awesome!"

Some people like Albano said they come to Columbia in the summer and say it's important to take DEEP's warning seriously.

"If we can preserve the wildlife, we have that would be fabulous," King said.

Columbia does not have an official fireworks event, but officials said illegal ones are common over the holiday weekend.

For fireworks displays elsewhere in the state, head here.

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