Don’t let them go: Balloons kill, injure wildlife & make giant mess

Kids love balloons. Kids – and grownups – also love watching balloons float up into the sky. So do some groups that release balloons in support of various causes, in memory of someone or in a bid to find a pen pal.

But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers this warning: Don’t do it.

“Do you ever wonder where balloons go when they are released?” USFWS asks on Facebook. “Once they deflate and fall to the ground, birds, turtles and other animals occasionally mistake them for food, which can harm or even kill them.”

“In addition, many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or hurt their feet and hands,” it added.



The photo above shows more than a hundred balloons that were recently collected at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey at a cleanup. And, that’s just the number that made it to this one particular beach, USFWS noted.

The impact is disturbing to see.

Here’s a bird found tangled in a balloon string.

Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program

Here’s another.

Pamela Denmon/USFWS

According to the USFWS, sea turtles “are especially hit hard as they surface to breathe and eat and commonly eat balloons.”

USFWS Eastern Shore of VA and Fisherman Island NWR

 Balloons Blow, a non-profit first started almost two decades ago by cleaning up Florida’s beaches, is now dedicated to teaching people around the world to avoid balloons – and other unsustainable litter. The group suggests people look for alternatives to all this environmental damage.

Those include ribbon dances, pinwheels, planting something, bubbles and lighting candles. (But don’t let a flaming paper lantern go up into the sky. Those have started fires and killed animals.)

Still, the group‘s “wall of shame” continues to grow. But there is some good news: So does its “wall of fame” — those who are picking up such waste before it’s too late.

Main Photo Balloons Blow/Facebook

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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