Montgomery County Council Vice President Tom Hucker introduced a bill today that would ban the release of helium-filled latex and mylar balloons.
These balloons can travel hundreds of miles before deflating. Once they’ve fallen to earth the balloons can become life threatening to sea turtles, birds and land animals that may mistake them for prey and ingest them. The balloons can block an animals intestinal tract or the animal can become entangled in the ribbon, both of which could lead to death.
“Other jurisdictions, including Queen Anne’s County and Ocean City in Maryland, already ban the outdoor release of these balloons,” Vice President Hucker said. “It’s time for Montgomery County to step up and do its part to protect vulnerable wildlife in Maryland and beyond.”
The Bill 6-20 has the support of many environment and animal protection organizations including the Rock Creek Conservancy, the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), the Humane Society of the United States and Trash Free Maryland.
“ANS supports the balloon ban bill because when balloons are released into the air, they harm our wildlife both locally and worldwide,” said Denisse Guitarra, Maryland conservation advocate with the Audubon Naturalist Society. “They are especially dangerous to sea turtles and other marine animals, as a broken-down balloon can look just like jellyfish or squid — their favorite food.”
The bill would allow civil penalties of $500 for first offenses and $750 for subsequent offenses.
“I’m grateful for the support of our wonderful community partners who have worked with us on this important legislation,” Vice President Hucker said. “Together, we can make a real impact on protecting our precious natural resources.”
A public hearing on the bill will be held at a later date.