Farming unions across the UK have warned the public to be cautious when participating in Halloween activities like lighting bonfires, setting off fireworks and using sky lanterns because of the dangers they pose to farms and farm animals.
The Farmer’s Union of Wales (FUW) released a statement urging people to consider the potential distress that Halloween fireworks, sky lanterns and bonfires can cause to livestock and pets.
The statement, which was released Wednesday (October 19) aimed to remind people of the dangers posed by the festive celebrations.
FUW deputy president, Ian Rickman, said: “This time of year poses many dangers to animals and children – so don’t let negligence and ignorance be the cause of a tragedy this year.
“We therefore call on people to stick to the firework safety code at all times to minimise the risk to livestock, pets and humans.”
The FUW asked people to be considerate of livestock, as they are “not fond” of the noise of fireworks and it can cause them distress.
“It is also a good idea to make sure that your pets have been microchipped by a vet and that the details on the chip are up-to-date prior to bonfire night, just in case they go missing,” said Rickman.
“We also remind people that sky lanterns have been banned on all public land by all local authorities across Wales, as they pose significant dangers to livestock and are, of course, a considerable fire safety risk.”
The FUW also advises people to give neighbours a few days notice if you plan to have a firework display, particularly if they are elderly, have young children or keep livestock/pets.
The National Farmers’ Union
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) particularly advised against the use of sky lanterns.
NFU vice president, David Exwood, said: “The sooner sky lanterns are banned the better.
“We continue to hear from farmers of the devastating damage they cause to fields of crops and buildings, and the serious injuries, and in some cases fatal injuries, to livestock and other animals.”
While sky lanterns my look pretty in the sky, they are a scourge across the great British countryside.”
Exwood said that over 70,000 members of the public showed support for the NFU’s campaign for a total ban on sky lanterns in England and Wales.
With all the councils in Wales having banned the lanterns entirely, the NFU has called for the rest of the UK to do the same.
“I’d encourage more people to sign our petition calling for the government to take immediate action and bring in a ban on sky lanterns to safeguard property and animals,” Exwood said.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union
The deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), William Irvine, said: “With Halloween fast approaching, we are urging members of the public to be extra cautious with their celebrations, especially in rural areas.
“It’s extremely important that sky lanterns are not used as once they are released into the air, you have no control over where it goes or lands.
“There is the possibility that livestock will eat the metal wire frames which will then pierce their internal organs and cause life-threatening injuries,” he said.
Speaking on fireworks, Irvine said that they should not be used near where livestock are grazing and that people should be mindful of farm dogs as the noise can cause distress.
“We encourage anyone who is planning a firework display in rural areas, to be considerate of the safety and wellbeing of their neighbours as well as their animals,” he said.
“They should notify nearby residents so that they can take any necessary precautions to protect themselves and their animals.”
Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), Northern Ireland’s animal welfare charity, has shared advice ahead of Halloween to help pet owners ensure their pets are healthy and safe over the holiday.
The charity stressed that whilst Halloween can be a fun-filled event the festivities involved can be very distressing for pets. It said that fireworks, in particular, can have a very distressing effect on many animals.
Warning signs of pets in distress include: panting, barking, whining, pacing around and shivering.
Deirdre McArdle, animal care manager, said: “As a pet owner, there are a few things to keep in mind over Halloween so that it is an enjoyable time for all.
“Pets can be spooked by fireworks, so we advise you keep them indoors. This will help to reduce their anxiety and limit the chance of them running away due to fright.
“We recommend taking your pet out for some exercise earlier in the day, prior to fireworks being let off in the evening,” she said.
“Whilst firework displays are happening, it is important to keep your pet in a space that they feel safe and comfortable in as this will reduce fear and anxiety.”
“If your pet is severely affected by fireworks, our veterinary team can provide great advice and treatments to help,” McArdle concluded.