Wicomico Mulling Ban On Intentional Balloon Releases

SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County will consider new legislation that prohibits intentional balloon releases.

Late last week, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver announced he submitted proposed legislation to the Wicomico County Council that prohibits the release of large numbers of non-biodegradable or non-photodegradable balloons into the atmosphere.

“The release of balloons poses a danger and nuisance to the environment, agricultural industry, wildlife and marine animals,” a statement from the executive’s office reads.

The legislative bill, submitted to the county council for consideration, would amend the county code to prohibit the intentional release of balloons that are neither biodegradable nor photodegradable and make the release of such balloons subject to a civil infraction.

Culver’s announcement follows on the heels of a new law passed in Queen Anne’s County prohibiting the intentional release of Mylar and plastic balloons filled with helium. It has become the first county in Maryland and one of only a handful across the country to implement such a ban.

In Wicomico County, the proposed legislation would not apply to any balloons released by or on behalf of any state or federal agency for scientific or meteorological purposes, hot air balloons that are recovered after launch, or the negligent or unintentional release of any balloons. Those found guilty of violating the law could be fined no more than $250.

In recent months, the balloon release issue has been front and center for several reasons.

In late August, for example, the parent company of an Ocean City movie theater reversed its plans to place red balloons around the resort with potential free tickets to a showing of It 2 after local environmental groups highlighted the potential dangers.

And in May, a wild horse on Assateague Island was seen choking on a part of a ribbon that was attached to a Mylar balloon.

Lastly, two local siblings – Josh and Emily Blume – launched a Blume’s Balloon Round-Up campaign last summer to encourage offshore boaters and fishermen to collect and report any deflated balloons they found floating in the ocean. To date, more than 2,700 balloons have been collected through their efforts.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.