Should Norway ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve?

Should Norway ban fireworks on New Year’s Eve?
New Year fireworks in Oslo at the turn of the millennium. Photo: AFP
Norwegian New Year’s Eve celebrations would not normally be complete without an ear-splitting salvo of fireworks as the clock strikes midnight. But animal protection organizations want legislation to restrict the practice.

Animal welfare charity Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge wants justice minister Jøran Kallmyr to step in and forbid sales of fireworks to private individuals, as well private use of fireworks, NTB reports.

The environment, animals and people in Norway would all benefit from such legislation, the charity says.

“Both domesticated and wild animals can experience real fright and some are even scared to death when fireworks are set off. Scared animals can end up with serious injuries from trying to escape during fireworks,” Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge’s leader, veterinarian Åshild Roaldset, told NTB.

Although Norway has a set interval – 6pm to 2am – during which New Year fireworks may be set off by private individuals, some do not stick to those rules and large municipal displays can still affect animals.

Research at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) found that 23 percent of 5,000 dogs included in the study reacted affected to fireworks and had a mild to moderate phobia of the loud noises.

“Animals can become so scared that they get lost, which can result in them freezing to death given it’s the coldest time of the year. From an animal welfare perspective, the current situation is unacceptable,” Roaldset told NTB.

Nils Bull, a consultant ophthalmologist at Helse Bergen Haukeland University Hospital, told the news agency that he had treated several eye injuries resulting from the use of fireworks.

“According to my figures, an average of 16 persons sustains serious eye injuries each year after New Year’s Eve. These are just the injuries serious enough to be treated by an ophthalmologist,” Bull said.

Eye injuries treated by non-specialist doctors as well as other types of injuries can be added to the list of consequences, he noted.

The ophthalmologist has joined Dyrebeskyttelsen in calling for the justice ministry and municipalities to take measures to reduce the prolific use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Municipalities in Norway are free to introduce their own rules on the use of fireworks if they decide to do so.

“We ask the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the country’s municipalities to look at countries like Sweden, where several municipalities offer alternative New Year celebrations in the form of light shows, which protect people, animals and the environment,” Bull and Dyrebeskyttelsen wrote in a joint press statement.

READ ALSO: Norway sets new fireworks world record


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