The combination of a naked flame and dangerous construction makes sky lanterns a lethal litter hazard for animals as well as a public safety issue, says the RSPCA.

The animal charity is calling for England to follow Wales’ lead as all Welsh council land is designated a ‘no fly zone’ for sky lanterns. It has long campaigned for a complete ban throughout England and Wales, highlighting the dangers these devices pose to public safety and to animal welfare.

Sky lanterns pose multiple dangers to animals, causing entanglement or entrapment. They can also be ingested, meaning sharp parts of the device can tear and puncture an animal’s throat or stomach causing horrific internal bleeding.

Lanterns also act as a dangerous fire hazard, destroying habitats, and potentially setting animal housing, feed and bedding alight. Marine life is also endangered by lanterns falling into the sea.

As the final outstanding Welsh local council, Merthyr Tydfil this week introduced a ban on sky lanterns, the RSPCA is calling on English councils to follow suit.

RSPCA wildlife information officer Llewelyn Lowen said, “These horrible devices can have deadly consequences for pets, farm and wild animals. While it’s encouraging to see that a few councils in England have acknowledge the dangers and introduced a ban, there’s still a long way to go. A complete ban on sky lanterns is long overdue.”

Anyone who sees an animal in distress should contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour line on 0300 1234 999.