The 4th of July is just around the corner. If you are heading to the Mississippi River for a boating or camping trip, just a reminder – no fireworks are allowed on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) because of their disturbance to wildlife as well as the litter they leave behind.
As we enjoy the bright colors and thunderous explosions of fireworks, it’s easy to overlook the impact to wildlife around us. The abrupt lights and sounds are often seen as a threat by nesting bald eagles and easily startle great blue herons and other nesting birds. The shock of fireworks can cause wildlife to flee, ending up in unexpected areas or roadways, flying into buildings and other obstacles, and even abandoning nests, leaving young vulnerable to predators. The threat to wildlife doesn’t stop at startling lights and sounds; litter from firecrackers, bottle rockets and other explosives can be choking hazards for wildlife and may be toxic if ingested.
The Refuge includes most islands and beaches on the Mississippi River from Wabasha, MN to Rock Island, IL. If you are not sure if you will be within the Refuge please contact the Winona, MN office at (507) 454-7351 or check the maps located at www.fws.gov/refuge/upper_mississippi_river.
Federal law enforcement officers will be patrolling the Refuge looking for fireworks as well as glass bottles, which are also banned on Refuge beaches. The fine for glass bottles is $175; $225 for fireworks possession and use. Officers also want to remind people of the importance of wearing their PFD’s while on the water.