Balloon petition flies

• Lisa Hills’ love for animals extends to taking story dogs into schools. File
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A PETITION to ban the release of helium balloons in WA finally got its day in parliament on Thursday (June 6).

South Freo resident Lisa Hills, a wildlife nurse at Perth Zoo, started the petition in 2015 because she was alarmed by the number of burst balloons found on beaches and in the stomachs of dead seabirds and marine life.

The 3000-signature petition, presented to WA parliament just before World Oceans Day, calls on the McGowan government to make the release of helium balloons illegal and classify it as littering.

Miss Hills has received support and recognition from other metropolitan councils like the Town of Cottesloe, which recently became the first WA council to ban the release of helium balloons in council-owned public spaces, and the City of Fremantle, which is set to follow Cottesloe’s lead.

Ms Hills wants to target organisations that do mass balloon releases at events like store openings.

The strings attached to balloons often gets caught in bird wings, and the gas in them can be damaging for the environment.

“Helium ballon releases are an out-of-date tradition and we have an out-of -date Littering Act,” says Ms Hills.

Deaths

A study conducted by Lauren Roman, a PhD graduate at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, found that that the ingestion of balloons were responsible for more than half the deaths of the Procellariiformes seabird group, which includes shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses.

Ms Hills recommends buying multi-use, eco-friendly alternatives to latex balloons.

In 2017 Miss Hills was recognised by the Conservation Council of WA for her dedication to promoting community awareness.

by SHREYA PILO

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