Balloon releases and the horrific damage they can cause to wildlife and their habitats

Balloon releases, often intended as heartfelt gestures to commemorate loved ones, carry unintended and severe consequences for wildlife and their habitats.

Once back on the ground, balloon remains not only litter the countryside but also become a serious threat to wildlife.

They are often mistaken for food by marine wildlife and once swallowed can block the gut slowly starving them to death. Birds are also suspect to becoming tangled up in balloon ribbon and string restricting their movement and ability to feed.

Picture a young seal pup on our coast found dying with its flippers bound together by plastic balloon string. Imagine a diseased hen harrier on our uplands having sadly become entangled.

Are these the potentially distressing sights we wish to cause and then remember our loved ones by?

Over the past year we have received several reports of balloon releases taking place on or near some of Wales’ Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI). These are areas that provide habitats to some of our rarest and most threatened wildlife.

Our protected sites such as the Ruabon, Llantysilio Mountain and Minera SSSI near Llangollen is home to a number of vulnerable and protected species such as the iconic black grouse and curlew. Balloon litter on these sites can harm these species and the livestock which are used to maintain the moorland habitats. Endangering these protected species can lead to prosecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

The incidents caused by balloon releases only add to the current troubles facing nature. The scale and rate of biodiversity loss across the nation is accelerating, impacting on species who depend upon our natural resources and the very foundation of our existence.

When we threaten biodiversity, we are threatening our food supply, our health, our jobs, our economy and our sense of place.

This Christmas, let us celebrate responsibly, mindful of the impact our actions can have on the delicate balance of nature.

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