Southern Shores implements balloon release ban to protect environment

SOUTHERN SHORES, NC — An Outer Banks town may ban a popular way to honor lost loved ones: balloon releases.

On Tuesday, Southern Shores’ town council will vote on a ban on releasing balloons in town boundaries.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service says balloons pose a danger to birds, turtles, and other animals that may mistake them as food or get tangles on their strings.

One advocate detailed the dangerous impact these releases can have on the environment during a recent town council meeting.

“While balloon debris falls under a current litter ordinance, there is a distinct difference between helium balloon litter and all other forms. a deflated balloon or other trash on the ground is picked up and a citation is assessed,” advocate, Debbie Swick, said, “A helium balloon is not considered litter until it floats away and your evidence is released.... never to be seen again... it will never be retrieved unless it comes ashore.”

Other municipalities that have passed balloon release bans include Jacksonville, Topsail Beach, and Ducl.

The ordinances are hard to enforce.

(WATCH BELOW: Balloon releases can be harmful to wildlife, environmental advocates say)