Balloons and Wildlife: Please Don't Release Your Balloons
An Open Spaces Blog
Service Employee joined with partner agency member and volunteer for balloon beach cleanup. Photo by USFWS

Balloons are great at birthdays, weddings, graduations and more, but once they get loose, balloons can pose a threat to many animals.  

Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food, which can harm or even kill them.

In addition, many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or hurt their feet and hands.

For example, more than a hundred balloons were recently collected at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey at a cleanup, and that’s just the number that made it to this one particular beach.

Some of the following pictures are hard to look at, but they make clearer than any words why we all should find alternatives to letting a balloon go.


Bird Carcass entangled by balloon string. Photo by Virginia Stranding Response Program
Bird carcass hanging from above powerline by balloon string. Photo by  Pamela Denmon/USFWS.
Sea turtles are especially hit hard as they surface to breathe and eat and commonly eat balloons. Photo by USFWS Eastern Shore of VA and Fisherman Island NWR

This story is part of our Open Spaces blog.

Story Tags

Animal health
Human-wildlife conflicts