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Animal rights groups file lawsuit to change location of La Jolla fireworks show

The Animal Protection and Rescue League filed suit against an individual and affiliated corporations seeking to blast off fireworks over La Jolla Cove.

SAN DIEGO — Some animal rights activists filed a lawsuit trying to change the upcoming La Jolla fireworks Fourth of July show.

The La Jolla area is known as a popular place to watch seals and seal lions. 

"We have 49, 50 pups and moms," said Carol Archibald of the Sierra Club. "They would separate them. The moms may never find their pups again."

Archibald is also concerned about how the fireworks would impact multiple animals species, such as birds. 

The Animal Protection and Rescue League filed suit against an individual and affiliated corporations seeking to blast off fireworks over La Jolla Cove. 

"Devastation," said Ellen Shively of the Sierra Club. "I call it, 'the dark side of fireworks'."

Bryan Pease represents the animal rights activists. On Tuesday, Pease said it isn't the fireworks display itself that's concerning, but rather the location. He believes NOAA would want the event to take place farther away from any wildlife in accordance with the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

"We’ve got all the experts saying ‘this is definitely going to violate the MMPA,’” said Pease.

The defense offered a different perspective. Attorney James Heffner said fireworks have taken place 33 of the last 36 years in La Jolla without any major issues. 

Additionally, the defendants argued nearby businesses have planned and stocked up for this much-needed boom in business.

"This is an important date to return to celebrate in the way we’ve celebrated," said Heffner.

On Tuesday, Judge Medel said he would review the case, but would not sign an order making a decision.

Credit: Bryan Pease

WATCH RELATED: City leaders, animal lovers reminds residents, tourists to give sea lion pups space (June 2021)