Lanterns are lethal to cattle, warn farmers

Farmer Paul Elliott with a Chinese Lantern that he found on his land
Farmer Paul Elliott with a Chinese Lantern that he found on his land

AIRBORNE Chinese lanterns are posing dangerous hazards for local farmers.

The popular lanterns, which float high in the sky, powered by a flame, have wire parts that can prove lethal to grazing cattle.

The lanterns are sometimes still alight when they land and risk setting fire to hay bales or thatched roofs.

Fairlight farmer Paul Elliott says the lanterns are now becoming a menace and called for stricter controls on how they are manufactured.

Mr Elliot says the lanterns make a frequent appearance on his land, off Peter James Lane, and that he has to check each field to remove the debris before it is eaten by cows or becomes tangled in farm machinery.

He said: “Cows will eat anything and the wire on these lanterns can easily kill a calf.

“They land in grass and silage where they are not easily spotted.

“It is not the ones you find you worry about - it is the ones that you don’t find.

“It happens all the time but is worse during party seasons such as bonfire night.

“We did have some sort of industry agreement with the manufacturers that they should be made of more biodegradable material.

“For a while they used bamboo, but the rings on that were still very sharp, now they seem to have gone back to using wire.

“I agree they are very pretty but that is not the point. One recently landed near a straw stack. I know the fire brigade have concerns about these lanterns.

“There is no mark or indication on the lanterns to say where they are made or distributed so it is very hard to track anyone down.”

Isobel Bretherton, from the National Farmer’s Union, said: “There are concerns, not only because of the fire risk they pose, but because cattle are curious and will eat anything they find.

“Cattle have died from eating the wire frames of Chinese lanterns – one of our members in West Sussex lost a cow to a lantern. There is also a risk if the wire frames get chopped up during the harvesting process and find their way into hay and straw animal feed. The wire can also cut an animal’s feet.

“Another member in East Sussex found one of his calves being choked by a Chinese lantern – the calf had got really tangled up in it.

“The NFU has also contacted East Sussex Trading Standards on his behalf to see whether Trading Standards might be able to look into controls on the sale of the wire-framed lanterns as they pose the biggest risk to livestock. Oxfordshire Trading Standards has acted on this front in the past year or so.”