Sky Lanterns & Animal Safety | RSPCA - RSPCA
Sky lanterns and animal welfare
Sky lanterns are made from paper-covered wire or a bamboo frame with a candle inside. The heat from the candle lifts the lantern into the air where it can float for miles. Once extinguished, the lantern falls back to the ground where it becomes hazardous to animals and the environment.
Are sky lanterns banned in the UK?
Currently, sky lanterns are only banned in Wales, on all council land. We've been campaigning for years for England to implement the same ban but have been met with limited success.
The dangers of sky lanterns
Paper lanterns aren't safe for animals or the environment. They can cause injury, suffering and death to animals if they:
- Eat them
- Become entangled
- Become entrapped
When they're eaten, sharp parts like the wire frame can tear and puncture an animal's throat or stomach causing internal bleeding.
Animals can also become trapped in fallen lantern frames and can suffer from injury and stress trying to get free. If severely trapped, animals may starve to death. Marine life can also suffer from lanterns falling into the sea.
Paper lanterns are a fire hazard
Sky lanterns can cause fires, as they use an open flame to float. This could destroy habitats and set animal housing, feed and bedding alight.
The fire risk is higher during the dry summer months, as it's easier for grass and the countryside to catch fire.
Biodegradable lanterns aren't a safe alternative
Don't be fooled into thinking that 'biodegradable' paper lanterns are safe. Materials like bamboo can still take decades to degrade and there's still a fire risk.
Use alternatives to these types of paper lanterns and avoid the danger to our countryside and animals.
Ban sky lanterns to protect animals
Defra is researching the use of sky Lanterns and disposable bbqs, to show their commitment to understanding the issue more and their environmental impact. In response, the NFU has launched a petition to gather and demonstrate public support for the banning of sky lanterns.
Add your voice
Help stop sky litter and its danger to animals and the destruction of their habitats through wildfires.
What else can you do
We're calling for a ban on sky lanterns, in partnership with other organisations, including the Marine Conservation Society, Women's Food and Farming Union (WFU), Soil Association and National Farmers Union (NFU).
You can help by:
- Picking up lantern litter
- Discouraging others from using lanterns
- Contacting event planners and retailers asking them to use safe alternatives
- Contacting local councils about planned releases
- Writing to your local MP (England).
Read more in our guide to sky lanterns.
How littering harms animals
Thousands of animals are injured every year due to litter. Find out what you can do to help.