Barn owl dies after colliding and becoming trapped in Chinese lantern

Chinese (sky) lanterns


Chinese or sky lantern being launched © efired / iStockphoto


Chinese lanterns pose a threat to wildlife, livestock andother animals by causing injuries that lead to suffering and aslow painful death.

The RSPCA advise against the use of Chinese lanterns and recommend the use of harmless alternatives instead.

What are Chinese or ‘sky’ lanterns?

Often used in celebrations such as weddings, they tend to be made of a paper-covered wire or bamboo frame and an open flame heat source.

Heat lifts the lantern into the air where it can float for milesfrom the point of release. Once extinguished, a lantern willfall back down to earthendangering the lives of animals both on the ground and in water.

What harm can be caused by a Chinese lantern?

Chinese lanterns can cause injury, suffering, and even death, through:

  • ingestion,
  • entanglement,
  • entrapment.

Livestock (e.g. cattle) can eat or become caught in lantern debris in grazing vegetation, or eat lantern parts accidentallychopped into animal feed during harvest.

If an animal eats sharp lantern parts, these can tear and puncture the throat, stomach or internal organs causinginternal bleeding or, in worst cases, death.

An animal that has become trapped or entangled in a fallen lantern can suffer from injury, stress and panic as it struggles to free itself, or eventually die from starvation.

There is the risk of fire caused by lanterns falling to the ground whilst alight – this can destroy habitats and set fire toanimal housing, feed and bedding.

Evidence of the dangers of Chinese lanterns

Farmers and landowners have called for a ban on Chinese lanterns, following a number of cases in livestock and horses.The UK Government are now launching an independent study to assess the risks sky lanterns pose to livestock, crops and the environment and see what could be done to address concerns about them.

This barn owl (photo by Simon Pain @ Billow Farm) was found dead after becoming trapped in, or colliding with, a lantern.

Owl killed by Chinese lantern © Simon Pain / Billow Farm

Lanterns fall into the sea, endangering marine lifeFire services have issued warnings to people because of the fire risk, and lanterns have already been banned in some countries.

Comments are closed.