Halloween sky lanterns a danger to wildlife

RSPCA Cymru are warning the public of the dangers of sky lanterns to animals ahead of this year’s Halloween celebrations

31st October 2017
Owl trapped in sky lantern

Sky lanterns, or ‘Chinese’ lanterns, are often released over the Halloween period – but RSPCA Cymru in Wales has reminded users that the devices pose a threat to wildlife, sometimes proving fatal.

After being lit, the lanterns – often built around a wire frame – land in trees, fields and in the sea where they can be ingested by farm animals, pets and wildlife, says the animal charity. When consumed, the sharp parts of the lantern may cause damage to the animals’ throats, as well as internal bleeding.

Sky lantern owl
Over 200,000 sky lanterns are sold in the UK every year, according to the RSPCA ©RSPCA

The devices are known to cause entanglement or entrapment too – resulting in injury, stress or death. They are also a potential fire hazard.

“Sky lanterns may look pretty – but, in truth, they’re actually just pretty dangerous,” said RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager Martin Fidler Jones.

"We know sky lanterns can be a popular part of the Halloween celebrations - but it's important people know they can be fatal to animals. Instead, we urge people across Wales to explore safe alternatives - like stationary candles, nightlights or static lanterns.

Sky lantern
The RSPCA are urging the public to ground Sky lanterns this Halloween ©Getty

“Ultimately, what goes up, must come down - and when these lanterns return to land, animals are at risk of ingesting the material, or even entanglement or entrapment. As a dangerous fire hazard, they can also destroy habitats.”

In recent years, 17 of the 22 local Authorities in Wales have introduced local bans on the release of sky lanterns – and the RSPCA have made an outright ban their primary objective.

“There’s been considerable progress in recent years, with more and more Local Authorities backing the RSPCA’s campaign, and implementing local bans on their land,” added Mr Fidler Jones.

“While an outright ban remains the RSPCA’s objective, this is an important step forward, and makes a big statement about the dangers these lanterns pose to animals.

“RSPCA Cymru hopes the remaining five Councils in Wales will soon take action - and we’re urging members of the public to back our campaign, and tell Local Authorities that they want to keep animals safe by keeping sky lanterns grounded.”

Find out more about RSPCA Cymru, the danger of sky lanterns and what you can do to help here.


Main image ©RSPCA

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