RSPCA Cymru is reminding members of the public of the dangers associated with the use of sky lanterns ahead of the festive season.

Owl in field

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.

So far 14 out of our 22 local authorities in Wales have banned lantern releases on their land.

RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager, Martin Fidler Jones, said: “Sky lanterns may look pretty – but they’re also pretty dangerous. Sadly, many people forget that if they release a lantern or balloon they have no control over where it lands, or the damage it can do.

“Sky lanterns can be popular as part of Christmas parades and New Year’s celebrations, but it is vital the public understand the dangers associated with their use.

“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 festive celebrations.”

RSPCA Cymru has welcomed moves by organisers of a community event in Rhondda Cynon Taf to ensure their lantern parade does not compromise animal welfare.

Llanharan and Brynna Lantern Parade on December 11 will feature lanterns, but they will not be released and will use LED lights instead of a naked flame. Members of the public have been asked not to bring Chinese lanterns to the event at all.

Maria Thomas is organising the event, which is being run in conjunction with Llanharan Community Council and their chairman Chris Parker. Maria said: “We are not releasing anything at all. We have chosen LED tea lights for several reasons. Safety for children being a priority but also because we feel strongly that wildlife should not be affected by events held by humans. We want everyone to be safe and we want to have fun!”

Martin Fidler Jones added: “This is a great example of a community working together to ensure that animals are kept safe, but without spoiling any of the fun of the event.

“We’re always keen for people to think of other alternatives instead of using sky lanterns. Sadly people do forget that what comes up must come down. But we are delighted that more and more people are considering the consequences of releasing sky lanterns.”

150824 Lanterns Wales 14To urge your Local Authority to ban the release of sky lanterns on their land and to urge other neighbouring Local Authorities to do the same (if yours has already banned their use) please visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/skylanterns.

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.

Notes to Editors:

Picture above: Litter casualty single adult dead barn owl entangled in chinese lantern UK CREDIT: Simon Pain@Billow Farm.

A factsheet on balloon releases is available on our website here. There is also a sky lanterns advice page available here.
Please follow us on Twitter and if you tweet this story please tag @RSPCACymru.

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 and kill animals.

Who has banned the release of them from their land?
In October 2013 the Welsh Government wrote to Local Authorities encouraging them to introduce a voluntary ban. So far 14 local authorities have banned sky lanterns from their land – these are Ceredigion, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Gwynedd, Cardiff, Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Monmouth and Powys.

RSPCA Cymru is calling on the eight other local authorities to follow the ever-increasing majority of councils that have recognised the danger and brought in a ban.

An outright ban remains RSPCA Cymru’s objective.
Please visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/skylanterns.