NOTE: This article contains an image of an owl who sadly died as a consequence of a sky lantern
A warning has been issued about the dangers sky lanterns pose to animals as Wales prepares to mark Halloween.
Sky, or ‘Chinese’, lanterns, can be a popular part of the Halloween celebrations – but RSPCA Cymru has reminded the public that they can be “fatal to animals”.
The devices – which are lifted into the air via an open flame heat source – can be ingested by animals, or cause entanglement or entrapment. This can lead to wildlife, pets or farm animals suffering injury, stress or even death.
When ingested the sharp parts of sky lanterns can tear and puncture an animal’s throat or stomach causing internal bleeding.
Lanterns also pose danger as a fire hazard – destroying habitats, and potentially setting animal housing, feed and bedding alight. Marine life is also endangered by lanterns falling into the sea.
An outright ban on their use across Wales remains the primary objective for the RSPCA – however they have welcomed “considerable progress” in recent years, with 17 of Wales’ 22 Local Authorities having implemented local bans on their release on the land which they control.
Martin Fidler Jones, RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager, said: “Sky lanterns may look pretty – but, in truth, they’re actually just pretty dangerous.
“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.
“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.”
The public is being urged to take action, and sign RSPCA Cymru’s campaign which urges Councils to implement a ban on their land on the release of sky lanterns – with more than three quarters in Wales now having done so. The remaining five yet to do so are Ynys Mon, Flintshire, Wrexham, Merthyr and Newport – though the latter is due to discuss the issue at Cabinet level, after full council voted in favour of a ban.
Mr Fidler Jones added: “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.
“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.”