Thursday, 22 June 2017

How many turtles have to die before we stand up to the balloon lobby? New Jersey (USA) - via Herp Digest

Editorial by STAR-LEDGER EDITORIAL BOARD , 6/19/17 

Let's hope our Legislature has the political chops and good sense to ban balloon releases statewide, so we don't find their tattered remains in our wildlife refuges and the mouths of dead sea creatures. 

You'd be surprised at what a challenge this is. After a similar ban died in the state Senate in 1989, thanks to the power of the almighty balloon lobby, a bill introduced last month would finally make the intentional release of helium balloons as part of an event illegal in New Jersey.

Violators could be fined up to $500. Because only do these hundreds of balloons become a source of litter, they can be a hazard if entangled in power lines, causing outages, or swallowed by sea turtles that mistake them for lunch.

Several towns along the Jersey Shore already ban releasing helium balloons. Lawmaker wants statewide ban.

Take a hard look at the grisly photos of dead birds and a turtle that encountered the remnants of party balloons in our state, posted online by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This is the terrible toll of your birthday.

Several towns have already banned balloon releases at events, but it's haphazard policy. The only reason we haven't banned them statewide is the political influence of the Trenton-based Balloon Council, which says this "creates a negative narrative about balloons."

Well, yes. It does. The council also argues it's a threat to mom and pop businesses. But why not just tie your balloons up during an event, and when it's over, pop them?

This group, which has spent more than $1 million in the past five years lobbying legislators against regulations, argues the threat to wildlife is exaggerated. Even though you find balloon bits in trees and on beaches, it says, it's not at the quantity of empty bottles and cans.

And so what? Who wants to see some poor seagull dangling from a wire a few days after the Fourth of July, wearing a stars-and-stripes balloon string as a necktie?

The lobbyists now plan to meet with the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-Atlantic) to see if they can get him to drop this measure, the Bergen Record reports. Stay strong, senator. For the sake of our beaches and wildlife, stand up to the balloon bullies.

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