RSPCA Cymru is reminding members of the public of the dangers associated with the use of sky lanterns ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns) can harm wildlife, livestock and other animals by causing injuries that lead to suffering and a slow painful death. RSPCA Cymru strongly advises against their use and recommends that harmless alternatives are sought to prevent injury, suffering and fatality of animals.
RSPCA Cymru has long highlighted the dangers of sky lanterns, and continues to call on the Welsh Government to implement an outright ban on their use across Wales.
Last year [October 2013] the Welsh Government wrote to local authorities encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban, and so far five out of the 22 have done so. These are Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Caerphilly and Conwy.
RSPCA Cymru’s Public Affairs Manager, Chris O’Brien, said: “Sky lanterns can be popular as part of New Year’s celebrations, but it is vital the public understand the dangers associated with their use.
“As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, RSPCA Cymru strongly urges the public to consider the harm sky lanterns can cause to pets, farm animals and wildlife, and consider suitable alternatives for their New Year celebrations.”
So far more than 200 people have urged their council to ban the use of sky lanterns on their land. To join in and take the action visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/skylanterns
He added: “Five local authorities in Wales have banned the use of sky lanterns on council-owned land, and we will continue to campaign in the hope the 17 local authorities in Wales will follow suit.
“Whilst an outright ban remains RSPCA Cymru’s objective, local authorities can deliver a powerful statement to their local community and beyond by implementing voluntary bans on the land which they control.”
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.
What are sky lanterns?
Sky lanterns are novelty items made from paper covered wire or bamboo frames and an open flame heat source. Heat carries lanterns up into air where they can travel for miles from where they are first released. Once finished, lanterns fall onto land or into the sea, endangering the lives of animals that encounter them. With estimates of 200,000 lanterns being sold in the UK each year, popularity is ever increasing and with that increase comes the greater risk of harm to wildlife, livestock and other animals.
Are ‘biodegradable’ lanterns safe?
No. Some retailers claim that ‘biodegradable’ lanterns are a safe alternative to those with wire frames. However, bamboo can take decades to degrade and the lantern debris still poses the risks of ingestion, entrapment, splintering, embedment and fire that can harm & kill animals.
Picture caption: Litter Casualty Single adult dead barn owl entangled in chinese lantern UK CREDIT: Simon Pain@Billow Farm