Chinese New Year festivities are due to take place over the next week - and the National farmers Union is urging revellers to celebrate without flying lanterns.
The Year of the Rabbit starts on Thursday (February 3) and thousands of events are due to take place up and down the country. But the NFU hopes that people will think twice about releasing Chinese lanterns into the countryside – a practice which can have tragic implications for livestock and threaten crops.
NFU director of communications Erika Coghlan said: “Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant and colourful events in the calendar and thousands of people will want to take part.
“However, we really hope that people will think twice about releasing Chinese lanterns because they can cause cattle deaths and serious fires, as well being a litter nuisance.”
The NFU isn’t alone in voicing concern. The Daily Telegraph reported at the weekend that a third of Britain’s fire brigades have dealt with emergency call-outs caused by the burning paper novelties.
The Civil Air Authority, The Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Women’s Food And Farming Union have also all reported issues with their the lanterns.
The NFU has received numerous reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances deaths, caused by cattle ingesting the metal wires contained within the lantern frames. Lanterns can also be chopped up during silage and hay making leading to ingestion at a later date, while the wire can also get tangled around the animal’s feet or become embedded in its skin.
The NFU are also concerned about the bamboo frame used in the construction of most lanterns, added Erika. They are very durable and prone to splintering, and the NFU continues to monitor potential problems similar to those found with metal wires. Over the summer and autumn, NFUonline reported a number of crop fires caused by lanterns.