WILDWOOD CREST – A new ordinance prohibiting the release of balloons was adopted during the Feb. 4 Wildwood Crest Board of Commissioners meeting.
The ordinance aims to protect local seabirds, turtles and other animals thatmistake the discarded balloons for food. In addition to potential ingestion, animals commonly become tangled in balloon strings, causing suffocationor severe bodily harm. Theyalso create a cleanup issue for local beaches, as the deflated balloons are rarely cleaned up after an event and scatter across large areas of beaches and other property.
A 2019 study conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) found balloon fragments in up to 42% of bird fatalities collected and concluded that balloon fragments are 32 times more likely to kill a seabird than hard plastics.
The ordinance places balloon releasing in the same category as any other type of littering, carrying the potential of up to a $2,000 fine or up to 60 days in jail. Similar alternatives, such as planting a tree or other vegetation in remembrance, wildflower seed bombs and blowing bubbles are a few of the environmentally friendly options available to mark a celebration while keeping local beaches clean and protecting wildlife.