Danger posed to livestock by Chinese lanterns

  • A horse owner in Worcestershire has added her voice to growing concern among the farming community over the dangers of Chinese lanterns.

    Sue Healey from Wribbenhall told H&H her horses were spooked for days after the last lot of lanterns she found in her field.

    I have picked five lots of lanterns out of my field in the past couple of months — they are very dangerous,” she said.

    Chinese lanterns are traditionally used in Asia for celebrations. Made from paper with thin wire cross-stays, they are released like a hot air balloon.

    Earlier this summer, the National Farmers Union (NFU) called for a complete ban. They have already been banned in Australia, Malta and parts of Germany.

    NFU spokesman Mike Thomas said: “The metal wires can be cut up during silage making and ingested by cows. This punctures their stomach lining, which has caused a large number of cow fatalities. They can also start crop fires.”

    The British Horse Society (BHS) has received a number of complaints, but director of safety Mark Weston said the society had not been “inundated”.

    During Prime Minister’s Question Time in early September, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg ruled out a ban, saying: “We have been looking at ways to reduce the risks posed by these lanterns.”

    The NFU is also asking more lantern manufacturers to make biodegradable lanterns without wire.

    “If we can’t get them banned we need to educate people,” added Mr Thomas.

    ITV also stopped showing a promotional clip after a request from the NFU.

    Mr Weston added: “We would ask anyone who’s considering lanterns to be aware of the potential consequences to livestock.”

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (21 October ’10)

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