I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed well over a year ago and came across a post shared by a friend.  A nursing facility caring for those with mental disabilities was doing a balloon release as part of an activity.  I don’t recall the details of the activity.  What I do remember is being completely frustrated and annoyed!  

I wanted to comment about how awful balloons are.  How every year turtles, birds, whales, and many more species are brought down by a piece of colorful latex or mylar.  How that pretty floating “Happy Birthday” on a string that you enjoy for a few days or a week lingers in the environment for decades.  

But I didn’t.  I refrained from commenting mostly because I didn’t want to be a killjoy and steal some fun and enrichment that could be brought to these people’s lives.  I let the opportunity to educate sail by without as much as a ripple.

But the ship has returned and I’m not going to watch it float by again.  Hannah sent me a balloon picture and thought it might be a good PSA for the blog.  Then she sent another picture, and another, and another.  Indeed balloons seemed as common as any critter on the Susquehannock!

GB2   balloon in tree

Do a quick Google search.  It’s not hard to find photo after photo of birds tangled in ribbon hanging from branches or power lines or headlines reading bald eaglet euthanized due to balloon ingestion and osprey euthanized after being entangled in balloon string.  And that’s just the birds!  I haven’t even gotten to marine animal deaths.

Goldfinch - R Arnold Balloons Blow   Osprey chick-Conserve wildlife of NJ

Goldfinch photo by R. Arnold, Osprey chick photo by Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ
from Balloons Blow photo gallery


Regret is by far the worst human emotion.  I should have commented on that Facebook post.  I should have relayed the horrors of balloons (and other mindless plastic trash we use) and offered alternatives.  Because there are plenty of less deadly means to celebrate.   

Graduation season is fast approaching.  Skip the balloons and go for the bubbles.  Or the flamingos! 

Because as one website states, BALLOONS BLOW!

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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