The owner of a Wigan animal rescue organisation has spoken out about the dangers of Chinese lanterns after finding one on New Year’s Day.
It is thought the lantern was lit and released into the sky on New Year’s Eve before landing on fields at Amberswood-based Lucky Hens Rescue.
Alison Thorpe, who set up the centre to save caged hens from slaughter, is concerned that it could have put the lives of her animals in danger.
She posted a photograph of the lantern on Facebook, along with a picture of an owl trapped in another lantern to show what could happen.
Her social media post said: “Please stop setting off silly Chinese lanterns!!
“We found this in the fields today.
“If this had landed on one of the horses, sheep or on the hay or straw we dread to think what would have happened.
“They don’t float up to your loved ones in the sky or end up in heaven, they end up polluting the planet or cost the lives of innocent animals.”
In Germany, an horrific blaze started by a lantern on New Year’s Eve killed dozens of animals at a zoo.
A mother and her two daughters are being investigated for setting off flying lanterns, which are banned in Germany, to celebrate the New Year.
Local prosecutors are now investigating the women for negligent arson, a crime that can be punished by up to five years in prison.
The fire, which claimed the lives of 30 primates including eight great apes, broke out shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve at Krefeld zoo in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Sky lanterns are legal across England, but Wigan Council banned them from any of the land or property it owns in 2015 amid safety
Ten incidents had taken place in the borough before the ban came into force, including a blaze in Hindley near overheard power lines and an incident in Lowton which resulted in a resident requiring hospital treatment.
While some people like to see them light up the sky for special occasions or to remember a loved one, there are concerns about the dangers they pose.
They can cause fires if they land on buildings or trees, while they also pose a risk to animals.
Alison said: “They can wrap around the horses’ or pigs’ legs.
“They get stuck in the mud or they can be chewed out of curiosity.”
Alison is calling for the lanterns to be banned worldwide and urged Wiganers to think twice before buying or using them.
She said: “Don’t do it! Think about the wildlife and think about the devastation they can cause.”