Could Georgia deflate balloon releases to protect wildlife?

Could GA deflate balloon releases to protect wildlife?

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Lawmakers in several states could be looking to burst your balloon releasing celebrations.

Critics say these balloons are becoming more dangerous to wildlife.

A steady stream flows down the Flint River Tuesday.

Above it, Sarah Jenkins releases balloons to honor her mother.

“Happy 50th birthday mommy," she said. "Please don’t get caught in the trees.”

Jenkins knows what goes up, must come down.

Sarah Jenkins. (Source: WALB)
Sarah Jenkins. (Source: WALB)

“Animals they’ll start trying to eat it thinking it’s food and you know start choking on it, I hate thinking about it,” she said.

Wildlife Biologist Drew Zellner said it’s something not many people realize.

“You let this piece of plastic, that will reside in the environment if not hundreds or thousands of years, and you don’t have any idea of where it ends up,” said Zellner.

Lawmakers in more than half a dozen states are looking to end the balloon releasing tradition.

In Florida, if you release ten or more balloons, you could face a $250 fine.

“Balloon releases aren’t necessary so it’s definitely something that should be considered for Georgia too,” said Aaron Griffin, the General Curator at the Flint RiverQuarium.

There are other ways to celebrate events, that don't have to involve lawmakers.

“Honestly, I’m with it. I just wish that in Georgia or in actually a lot of places they would make biodegradable options more available,” said Jenkins.

Locally, specialists said it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“Even if there wasn’t an impact on wildlife it’s something that should still be talked about as being banned because it’s still litter,” said Griffin.

“Often times when people let it go they don’t realize that it ends up somewhere, it doesn’t just vanish,” said Zellner.

Drew Zellner. (Source: WALB)
Drew Zellner. (Source: WALB)

The balloons Jenkins released Tuesday weren’t biodegradable.

Now that Jenkins knows the environmental consequences, she will use biodegradable balloons, and hopes other people will too.

“A lot of the mindsets need to change about all of the trash and littering all over the parks, everywhere, it’s just getting really bad,” she said.

Biologists recommend that if you do use balloons to make sure that you properly dispose of both the balloon and the string attached to it, as the string can harm animals as well.

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