News Releases

Reminder: Balloon releases take a toll on wildlife

News Release

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

With the start of football season, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds event organizers and other Floridians about a law prohibiting the release of more than nine lighter-than-air balloons within a 24-hour period.

Balloons released in Florida almost inevitably end up in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. Wildlife, especially sea turtles, mistake balloons for food, and strings attached to balloons can entangle birds and other animals.  The release into the atmosphere of large numbers of balloons inflated with lighter-than-air gases poses a danger and nuisance to the environment, particularly to wildlife and marine animals, according to Florida Statute 379.233, passed in 1989. The law provides for a $250 fine for violations.

There are exceptions for scientific or meteorological balloons released by a government agency or under government contract, hot air balloons that are recovered after launching, and balloons released indoors. The law also allows for the release of balloons that are biodegradable or photodegradable under FWC rules. Since 1989, the FWC has received only one such balloon design for review, and that balloon was not approved.



FWC Facts:
A violation of federal navigation rules is also a violation of Florida law.

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