A WILDLIFE group has backed farmers’ calls for people to stop releasing Chinese lanterns.
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust says the lanterns are a danger to wildlife, as well as damaging to farmers’ crops.
The lanterns are made of paper, wire and bamboo and contain a lit candle. They can float uncontrolled for miles before landing in fields, hedges and trees as well as on buildings.
The wildlife group says sharp parts can cause serious injury or death if eaten by animals and that they can be mistaken for or hidden among natural food or inadvertently made into silage and fed to livestock.
Animals can also become entangled in the lanterns causing dangerous infections or preventing them from feeding, the group said.
Senior conservation officer Neil Pilcher said: “We are very worried about the real threat that these lanterns pose to livestock and wildlife.
“Please think about the consequences of releasing these lanterns. While they may momentarily light up your party they create a long-term potentially fatal threat to wildlife and farm animals.”
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust staff regularly find the remains of lanterns on the trust’s nature reserves across Leicestershire and Rutland.
Mr Pilcher said: “What started as a rare find last year is now becoming increasingly common. Worryingly it is now unusual for us not to find a lantern on one of the reserves at least once a week.”