Copied for Sunday Telegraph online 8 July 2018
New calls for ban after stray Chinese lantern sets horse alight
AN MP, farmers and the RSPCA have issued warnings over Chinese lanterns after a horse was set on fire and lost part of its tail.
Bastante, a seven-year-old point-to-point racehorse, was also left with a foot-long gaping wound on its leg after it bolted through a wire fence in shock after being hit by a lit lantern.
Sarah Sladen, Bastante’s owner, said it was disgusting that the lanterns were still allowed and called for a ban. “These things should be outlawed, it is as simple as that,” she said.
“The biggest problem is for the animals, because, if it falls into grass, [the lantern is] wire. Grass gets made into hay. You then end up with animals injured through eating the wire that gets into the bales of hay. It’s all of that. They should be got rid of, end of.”
The horse was seen by a vet, and is recovering.
Many have argued that the lanterns endanger wildlife, as they can cause fires, especially during hot weather.
Ruth George, MP for High Peak, had called for a lantern festival happening near her constituency in the Peak District to be cancelled over fire fears.
The event, which has since been called off, was to be held at Buxton Raceway, Derbys, on July 28, with thousands of lit lanterns to be sent into the sky over the Peak District, which has already been subject to fire warnings because of the dry conditions.
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, said: “We welcome the decision by Buxton Raceway to cancel the Manchester/Birmingham Lights Fest at Buxton on the doorstep of the Peak District National Park, which would have put our valuable landscapes, wildlife and farming livelihoods at risk… I share the public’s frustration that the organisers did not consider the impacts of sky lanterns before planning this event so close to the UK’s first National Park, and not least in light of recent wild fire incidents.”
Mike Thomas, a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “There is plenty of evidence that shows they can harm animals. We continue to campaign for an outright ban.”
Dr Mark Kennedy, equine specialist at the RSPCA, described the incident with Bastante as “very distressing”. He said horses can be burned by lanterns, and “further injury can be caused as they panic and attempt to escape.” He added: “Even stabled horses are at risk from these devices; the consequence of a burning lantern drifting into a stable or barn full of highly combustible straw and hay are obvious and horrifying.”