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article imageFarmer compensated after bull killed by balloon

By Lynn Curwin     May 6, 2011 in World
A British farmer was compensated after a young bull was killed by a balloon released at a school, as part of a Comic Relief event, but he said the animal may have suffered a painful death - and many groups are calling for a ban on mass balloon releases.
Students at a London school released hundreds of helium-filled balloons, and one of those balloons ended up in a Kent field, more than 50 miles away.
When Richard Vant, 50, found the animal it was dead.
“My bull could have been suffering for up to 20 hours," the Express quoted him as saying. “When I found it, the string was wrapped round its tongue and the balloon was all round its neck, shutting off the airways.
“It’s ridiculous. People think it’s lovely when they let balloons go but they don’t think about the consequences when they fall to earth.
“We are always having balloons and Chinese lanterns landing in the fields and a while ago one of my sheep got its legs tangled up in the string from another balloon."
He said releasing balloons is legalised fly-tipping.
There was a label attached to the balloon, indicated that it had been released by Lyndhurst primary school. He contacted the school, and they apologised and passed the details along to their insurer, Gallagher Bassett. The insurance company said that because it was unforeseeable the balloon would travel so far, they would not pay any compensation.
“Do they expect these balloons to land neatly in a waste bin? If it hadn’t landed on my field it could easily have landed on someone else’s," The Telegraph quoted Vant as saying.
“If that school hadn’t sent the balloon up, my bullock would still be alive.”
They later decided to pay compensation, and sent him a cheque for £889.
Lyndhurst primary school has said it will not be conducting any further balloon releases.
The National Farmers’ Union has written to the Government calling for a ban on releases of balloons and Chinese lanterns (paper lanterns with candles inside).
Earlier this year, a Red Poll cow died after eating a Chinese lantern, whose wire had punctured her oesophagus.
The Marine Conservation Society would also like to see balloon releases end.
"Balloons are particularly dangerous pieces of litter," states the organisation. "They are mistaken for food by many species of wildlife, especially turtles.
"Once balloons have been eaten they can block digestive systems and cause animals to starve. The string on balloons can entangle and trap animals."
It is believed that turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds mistake the balloons for jellyfish, which are their natural prey.
Clean Virginia Waterways reported that, in 1985, "an infant sperm whale was found dead of starvation as a result of ingestion of an inflated Mylar balloon which had lodged in its intestines."
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