They draw awareness, celebrate an event and sometimes are just done for a photo opp, but the Department of Natural Resources is asking you to think again if you're planning on doing a balloon release.
“It’s not unusual to pick up eight of these balloons a day,” said DNR Marine Warden Amie Egstad of Bayfield County.
Egstad says the party favor also creates problems for marine wildlife and boats in Lake Superior they plummet to the waves and shoreline.
Wardens are never sure what they are coming upon when they spot something floating at the water’s surface, she says. “We can see something silver from a distance, or a color reflecting off the water. We get there and find it is a balloon with a very long string still attached.”
“It seems to be a case where people, who have no intention of littering or causing potentially deadly consequences for our native and migratory birds or fisheries, are not stopping to think that what goes up does come down,” Egstad says. “And in this case, what’s coming down in Great Lake Superior are a lot of balloons.”
And the problem is not just with Warden Amie and Lake Superior.
DNR Marine Warden Dave Allen and Warden Lynna Gurnoe also have been picking balloons out of Lake Michigan. “After the day was done... we had about a dozen total, like bread crumbs out there!” Gurnoe said in a text message to Egstad.
Egstad says the solution to protecting the wildlife, water and shoreline quality from this party favorite is a simple one.
“Just take the balloons home with you. Please don’t release the balloons into the air because they will come down. And when they do, these once inflated balloons pose real threats to wildlife which can attempt to eat them -- or even get tangled in the strings and either choke or drown,” Egstad says. “As pretty and fun as balloons are, they can become dangerous, unsightly litter if not properly disposed of by the owners.
“If the balloons are to make memories, keep them!” she says.
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