South Yorkshire warning over 'deadly dangers' of using sky lanterns

Sky lanterns. Picture: Lights Fest
Sky lanterns. Picture: Lights Fest

Wildlife conservationists have issued a warning about the potentially deadly dangers of releasing sky lanterns as Bonfire Night approaches.

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is urging members of the public to not release the sky lanterns - also known as Chinese lanterns - as they can be harmful to farm animals and wildlife.

The organisation tweeted out a warning entitled 'pretty deadly' which said: "Sky lanterns are dangerous for wildlife.

"They start wild fires and become discarded litter which regularly results in the deaths of farm animals and wild animals alike.

"Why not choose a sparkler instead this year?."

The RSPCA echoed the warning and said many animals are killed each year by some of the 200, 000 sky lanterns bought in the UK annually.

The animal welfare charity said birds often become entangled in the bamboo frames leading to injury or death, while other animals can accidentally eat fallen lantern parts which can cause internal bleeding, leading to a slow painful death.

A spokesperson said in recent years a foal had to be put to sleep after his legs were so badly injured from bolting through a fence having been terrified by a lantern.

On another occasion a goat died after the frame of a lantern punctured her throat.

The warnings come after plans for a sky lantern festival in Sheffield were scrapped following a backlash from members of the public.

Plans for a 'Lights Fest' event, culminating with a mass release of the flying lights, were recently revealed online with the location given as Sheffield.

But critics voiced concern about the potential fire risk and danger to animals.

Organisers, who have staged similar shows in the US and Canada, said the lanterns used were specially designed to be eco-friendly and every effort was made to ensure safety.

They have now revealed the event will take place outside Sheffield at a yet-to-be-revealed location which is up to an hour's travel away from the city.