RSPCA Cymru is welcoming a fun and safe alternative to a balloon release at a local charity event, which will keep animals safe from the dangers they can pose.
St John Cymru Wales is holding a virtual balloon race on 22 July. The virtual balloons can be tracked online during the race and entrants can even decorate their balloon.
RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager, Martin Fidler Jones, said: “This is a fantastic alternative to a real-life balloon release that uses all the positive symbolism of a balloon release, with none of the negatives. We always urge people to think of alternatives to balloon and lantern releases which can pose harm to wildlife.
“What goes come up, must come down. Lanterns and balloons can land anywhere and when they land they can look very much like food to many different animals and any fragments left on the ground or floating in water can easily be eaten.
“Ingesting balloons and lantern frames can cause death by blocking the digestive and/or respiratory tracts, and is likely to be slow. This has been documented in marine turtles, dolphins, whales and farm animals.
“Even small-scale releases may have a serious effect on the environment and animals.
“We wish St John Cymru Wales all the best with their virtual balloon race, and encourage others to following their example and instead of releasing balloons to consider alternatives to help save animals lives.”
A spokeswoman from St John Cymru Wales said: “We’re delighted to host our first virtual balloon race and would like to thank RSPCA Cymru for their support. We chose this event specifically with the environment and animals in mind. It’s a fantastic way to raise money for our charity and we hope everyone enjoys taking part. You can get involved at www.rabr.co/sjcw”
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.
The vast majority of Local Authorities have banned the release of sky lanterns and balloons on their land. To find out if your Local Authority has banned them and to urge others to do the same, please visit our campaign page, 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.
So far 15 out of 22 local authorities in Wales have banned lantern releases on their land. (Map attached)
Picture caption: 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.
Alternatives to balloon releases
Use the same balloons intended for release to build balloon statues, then sell balloon numbers through a lottery or raffle style competition.
You could put raffle tickets in a few balloons, blow them up indoors and sell tickets to pop each one, the winners being those who pop a balloon holding a ticket.
You could also fill something (car, phone box, room etc) up with balloons and sell tickets to guess how many balloons the space contains.
Some organisations like St John Cymru Wales have launched virtual balloon races where each balloon’s progress can be tracked. These can be launched for any charitable cause, campaign or for loved ones.
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 15 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, Powys and Denbighshire.