Animal charities beg people not to use sky lanterns during clap for carers

Animal charities and farmers have blasted the growing use of sky lanterns and fireworks during weekly tributes to NHS and care workers.

The lanterns have been sold for use in the Clap For Carers initiative taking place every Thursday, but are blamed for causing serious harm to livestock and wildlife. Fireworks have been known to trigger fatal heart attacks and blindness in dogs, yet both are being used by people seeking theatrical ways to mark the celebrations.

The risk posed by sky lanterns was highlighted in January when they were suspected to have caused a fire at a zoo in Germany that killed dozens of monkeys, bats and birds. The RSPCA released this picture of an owl seriously injured after colliding with a sky lantern

Ren Shilcock, the RSPCA’s officer for the #EndSkyLitter campaign, said: ‘Though sky lanterns might look pretty in the sky, they pose a serious danger to horses, farm animals and wildlife. Sadly, many people are unaware of the potentially deadly consequences the release of sky lanterns can have for animals. ‘Not only are they a serious fire hazard, animals can suffer through ingestion, entanglement and entrapment, or simply the sight of a lit lantern in the sky can be terrifying for them and cause them to bolt and harm themselves.

A spokesperson for the National Farmers Union added: ‘We have heard from dozens of farmers over many years about the gruesome injuries sky lanterns have caused to their livestock and other animals, as well as devastating fire damage on farm to hay, straw and farm buildings. ‘We would also ask people to think about the heightened and unnecessary strain this will cause our already stretched emergency services who need to focus on the national response to the coronavirus outbreak.’

The calls echo those made by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) who say lanterns are also a fire hazard to crops, thatched houses and hazardous chemical sites.

Patriotically decorated lanterns have been promoted for use in the weekly NHS tributes Meanwhile, experts have repeatedly warned the public against using fireworks in built-up areas due to the intense stress they cause to animals.

Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust, said: ‘Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them.  ‘Fireworks also tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs. ‘This is why we believe fireworks should only be used at public, licensed displays at certain times of the year, and at organised events, such as weddings.’ Dogs Trust has published a list of guidelines for owners to follow if they expect fireworks to be let off in the neighbourhood, including making sure pets are walked and have a place to hide if necessary.

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