The Manx National Farmers’ Union has appealed to the public to resist the temptation to send off lit sky lanterns (Chinese lanterns) due to the dangers posed to livestock, horses and arable crops by these discarded objects.
Chineselanterns have become popular in recent years and are released at many celebrations including weddings and large parties.
However, they are made from very fine pieces of paper held in a balloon shape by a thin metal wire or piece of bamboo, which can cause serious harm to livestock if they are ingested or become entangled in them.
President of the Manx NFU Brian Brumby said: ‘We have been getting an increased number of reports from our members who have found both lit and extinguished lanterns near to farm buildings, dry arable crops and in fields with grazing livestock.
‘There is a significant risk to cattle when they ingest the fine wires whilst grazing and when grass is cut and baled for hay or silage for winter feed, the wire is chopped up and subsequently contained in hay or silage. In two instances on Island, cattle which have died suddenly have been found to have wires in their stomachs. The lanterns also pose a fire hazard to dry standing crops, stacks of hay or straw, forestry and farm buildings particularly during this dry weather, not to mention the problem of unsightly litter they cause.
‘While the lanterns do look attractive for a short while, the long term consequences are proving to be dire in several instances. We would urge the public to consider the potential effects of these lanterns and stop setting them off.’