Farmer calls for Chinese lanterns to be banned

Cattle farmer Victoria Hopkinson
Cattle farmer Victoria Hopkinson

A farmer is calling for Chinese lanterns to be banned from sale after one of her calves almost choked to death.

Victoria Hopkinson claimed the “floating killers” – which are usually made of paper and wire and use a candle to drift across the sky – were causing chaos within the farming community.

Concerned Victoria, of Low Common Farm, Renishaw, said a lantern fell on her land and became wrapped around the neck of a six-month-old calf.

She said: “If we hadn’t gone outside to tend to the calf when we did, it could have choked to death.

“I’ve heard all sorts of stories from farming colleagues about these floating killers causing fires and wiping out livestock.

“I think they should be banned from sale as people don’t understand the consequences of them.

“I don’t think it’s going to be long before there’s a tragedy caused by one of these lanterns.”

Chinese lanterns, also known as wish or flying lanterns, have become increasingly popular worldwide as a means of celebrating special occasions.

Victoria said it was a worrying New Year as the skies above Renishaw were full of the objects.

“It was a total nightmare for us as we were so worried they’d land on our farm and create a major problem,” she said.

A major fire at a factory in Smethwick in the West Midlands last July where 100,000 tonnes of plastic recycling bundle material caught fire was started by a Chinese lantern.

Nicola Currie, of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “Those releasing Chinese lanterns have no idea of the hazards they pose, nor do they consider the implications of releasing a naked flame with absolutely no control over where it will land.

“Lanterns which land in fields can get chopped up when farmers mow for silage or hay, resulting in fragments of wire in the forage. Cows, which naturally tend to chew things to check them out, get the wire trapped in their gut, resulting in an agonising, slow death for the animal.”