Friday, December 09, 2011

Danger In Balloon Releases Say Wildlife Officials

Balloons May Endanger Wildlife Says FWC

As people gather together for occasions that make the holidays bright, remember that releasing balloons may be harmful to wildlife, says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The FWC wants event and meeting organizers and other Floridians to be aware of a law prohibiting the release of more than nine lighter-than-air balloons within a 24-hour period.

Instead of releasing balloons this holiday season, the FWC suggests groups use more environmentally friendly ways to celebrate events such as New Year's Eve and football bowl games.

The release into the atmosphere of large numbers of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases poses a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals. Balloons released in Florida almost inevitably end up in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean or other water bodies. Wildlife, especially sea turtles, mistake balloons for food, and strings attached to balloons can entangle birds and other animals.

There are exceptions for balloons released indoors, scientific or meteorological balloons released by a government agency or under government contract, or hot air balloons recovered after launching.

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