Reminder: Balloon releases take a toll on wildlife
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
With the start of football season, the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds event organizers
and other Floridians about a law prohibiting the release of more
than nine lighter-than-air balloons within a 24-hour period.
Balloons released in Florida almost inevitably end
up in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. Wildlife, especially
sea turtles, mistake balloons for food, and strings attached to
balloons can entangle birds and other animals. The release
into the atmosphere of large numbers of balloons inflated with
lighter-than-air gases poses a danger and nuisance to the
environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals, according
to Florida Statute 379.233, passed in 1989. The law provides for a
$250 fine for violations.
There are exceptions for scientific or
meteorological balloons released by a government agency or under
government contract, hot air balloons that are recovered after
launching, and balloons released indoors. The law also allows for
the release of balloons that are biodegradable or photodegradable
under FWC rules. Since 1989, the FWC has received only one such
balloon design for review, and that balloon was not approved.