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Press Releases - County Council

Council Vice President Hucker introduces bill to ban balloon releases

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Deflated and burst latex and mylar balloons kill untold numbers of wildlife

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 25, 2020—Montgomery County Council Vice President Tom Hucker today introduced a bill that bans the outdoor release of helium-filled latex and mylar balloons, which can travel hundreds of miles before falling to earth, where they can be ingested and kill sea turtles, marine birds and land animals.

“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.”

Many animals, including sea turtles, mistake burst and deflated balloons for prey and ingest them. The balloons can block their intestinal tract, resulting in starvation and death. Sometimes, animals become entangled in the ribbons attached to the balloons, incapacitating them and leading to death.

Bill 6-20 authorizes civil penalties of $500 for first offenses and $750 for subsequent offenses.

The bill is supported by numerous environmental and animal protection organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Rock Creek Conservancy, the Humane Society of the United States, the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), Neighbors of Northwest Branch, Trash Free Maryland, the Surfrider Foundation, the Animal Welfare Institute and Oceana.

“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.”

“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 scheduled at a later date.

Watch video of Vice President Hucker’s remarks at the introduction of Bill 6-20:  https://youtu.be/QhNqRajACsU .

More information on the bill can be found here: http://bit.ly/2SKxp4r .

 

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Release ID: 20-062
Media Contact: Dave Kunes  240-777-7970