Balloon release warning to residents

POTENTIALLY FATAL: The balloon that Louise Bleasdale had to pull from the mouth of one of her sheep (S)
POTENTIALLY FATAL: The balloon that Louise Bleasdale had to pull from the mouth of one of her sheep (S)

A desperate plea has been issued to residents thinking of hosting celebratory or commemorative balloon releases.

While the events are a colourful and imaginative way of marking an occasion or reflecting on somebody’s life, Louise Bleasdale, who lives on a Foulridge farm, is urging locals to think of the dangers they could have on wildlife and farm animals.

Mrs Bleasdale’s concerns come after she had to pull a string from one of her sheep’s mouth to prevent it from choking to death.

The secretary and mum-of-two (46) said: “People are doing it with good intention, but they do not realise the consequences.

“I just want people to think before doing a balloon release, because there are alternative ways of celebration or remembering. If you release 50 balloons, then that is 50 landing somewhere. Animals could have their intentestines blocked up and die very slowly. Birds can also get tangled up in them. It is like littering, so in a way it is against the law.

“If the person releasing the balloon realised or heard that an animal had died, I am sure they would be devastated.

“I put this on Facebook, and there are a lot of people who feel very strongly about this.”

Mrs Bleasdale has also been raising awareness with 1st Trawden Brownies, since she is the assistant leader of the group. The youngsters spent time talking about the dangers of balloon releases and thinking of alternative events that could be held.

Mrs Bleasdale’s fears have also been echoed by the RSPCA in an online factsheet, which states: “Thousands of balloons released into the sky can make an impressive sight, but what goes up must come down. The impact of balloons on animals and the environment can be grave - even fatal.”

A Stanley House Veterinary Surgery spokesman added: “It is a great thing to bring up as people may not think of the end result being potentially fatal to farm animals and wild animals alike, especially as the balloons may be set off in built-up area and people don’t think how far they may travel.”