A leading Yorkshire vet practice is urging Christmas and New Year revellers to reconsider celebrating the festive season by launching Chinese sky lanterns.
While they provide an entrancing sight as they float across the night sky, the lanterns can cause serious harm – and even death – to wildlife and outdoor pets due to the debris they leave behind when they fall to the ground.
The sharp wire frames can end up in livestock feed and in long grass, which animals unknowingly eat while grazing, leading to life-threatening internal injuries.
In addition, there is the danger of birds, horses and small animals becoming tangled in the metal frames, or being strangled by them.
Hayley Buddery, a veterinary nurse at Calder’s flagship Dewsbury animal hospital, said: “It’s estimated that some 200,000 sky lanterns are sold in the UK each year, and each one has the capacity to seriously harm the farm animals we rely on for our food, and our precious wildlife and companion pets.
“Animals can eat lantern debris while grazing which can cause tears or punctures to internal organs leading to a potentially life-threatening situation. They can also get splinters in their skin which may cause infection, or become trapped or entangled in the debris.
“In addition, the wire lantern frames can end up among the crops. Months later they get chopped into pieces during haymaking or harvesting and then fed unknowingly to farm animals in hay or straw.
“We strongly urge people to find another way of marking the festive season.”