RSPCA Cymru has joined farm leaders in warning the public of the dangers posed to livestock, farm buildings and land by releasing sky lanterns this Halloween.
The animal welfare charity is pushing for an outright ban on the devices in Wales, as they can prove fatal for both farm animals and wildlife.
Sky or “Chinese” lanterns are lifted into the air via an open flame heat source, posing a fire hazard to habitats and potentially setting animal housing, feed and bedding alight.
If ingested, the sharp parts of the lanterns can tear and puncture an animal’s throat or stomach, causing internal bleeding.
More than three-quarters of councils in Wales have now banned sky lanterns on their land.
Five councils – Ynys Mon, Flintshire, Wrexham, Merthyr and Newport – have yet to do so, although Newport is set to discuss the issue at Cabinet level, and the RSPCA is urging the public to sign its campaign to force the councils to take action.
Martin Fidler Jones, RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager, said: “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.”
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) hopes that action by councils will put pressure on the government to introduce an outright ban.
CLA president and Monmouthshire landowner Ross Murray said: “We don’t want to spoil people’s fun, but these lanterns are bad news.
“With the support of England’s National Parks and an increasing number of local authorities banning the release of lanterns from council-owned land, we hope the government will take note of a growing desire to see the use of these flying bonfires banned outright.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales is also calling on the public to stick to the firework safety code over the Halloween and Bonfire Night season, as fireworks cause distress to both farm animals and household pets.
It is urging people to not let them off near livestock, and to attend an organised display if possible.
“This time of year poses many dangers to animals and children – so don’t let negligence and ignorance be the cause for a real-life horror,” said FUW policy officer Charlotte Priddy.