Good Question: Why are balloon releases dangerous for wildlife?

Good Question: Why are balloon releases dangerous for wildlife?
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 2:12 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - We do lots of stories about people remembering those who have died. But, the way they are doing that led to one viewer emailing us today’s Good Question.

For today’s Good Question, Vicki asks, “Could you please do a segment on releasing balloons in the air and how dangerous it is for animals?” She says, “We’re losing lots of horses and cattle from balloon releases.”

When those balloons go up, they have to land somewhere.

It is well-documented how dangerous that can be for wildlife. Sea animals, like turtles, are known to mistake balloons for food and then die after trying to eat them.

There are also numerous stories of horses being injured or even killed because of balloons that come back down into their field. We covered one in 2018 when a young horse in Bourbon County ran through a fence after a balloon got tangled in his hair.

Some states, including Virginia, Tennessee, and California, have made balloon releases illegal and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked people to stop doing them.

It is important to note that when people do releases, it’s often in memory of losing someone they love, so it can seem insensitive to tell them they’re remembering that person in the wrong way.

The website Onekindplanet does offer alternatives to balloon releases, like planting trees, blowing bubbles, painting stones, or lighting candles.

If you have a Good Question you’d like us to try to answer, send it to