Fourth of July Fireworks Discouraged for Sake of Bald Eagles

Independence Day traditions in one Connecticut town are clashing with an effort to protect an iconic symbol of the United States. 

Authorities in Columbia are asking residents to forego shooting off fireworks for the sake of a family of bald eagles. 

Last summer, a pair of eagles became the first to call Columbia Lake home since the species returned to the state in 1992. 

This spring, an eaglet appeared in the nest. 

"We've watched from when she was a tiny thing just poking out of the next to now," Pat Gallagher, a 17-year resident of Columbia, said. "You see her, she's a big girl."

The bird is not yet old enough to fly and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is concerned that the noise of fireworks could be enough to scare the eaglet out of the nest before it is ready. 

"I think it's a great idea," Mike Ramsey, of Columbia, said about foregoing the fireworks this year. "I think it's great to do whatever we can to promote the reemergence of nature in other areas."

"I think it's a good move on DEEP's part and I'm sure most people would cooperate," Paul Ramsey, of Columbia, said.

State law prohibits any disturbance of bald eagles or nests and the maximum penalty is a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in prison. Federal law enacts a $5,000 fine and/or a year in prison. 

There's no official fireworks display in Columbia, but the town says illegal displays are common during the holiday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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