A West Wales farmer today called for Chinese lanterns to be banned after a total of 10 fell on his fields on three separate occasions over the past three months.
Former Farmers' Union of Wales Pembrokeshire county chairman Griff Owen said six lanterns came down together in grazing fields on his farm alongside the Cleddau estuary at Oxland Lane, Burton, near Milford Haven, in May. Two more were discovered about three weeks ago and the remaining two the weekend before last.
"The first six were the most dangerous threat to livestock because the main frame was made up of a circular piece of thickish wire, to which the paper canopy was attached, and the candle wick was held by a criss-cross of thinner wire. Had they landed some 20 to 30 yards further away they would have been in silage fields.
"They could have then been picked up by the forage harvester and come the winter months we would have found wire inside our cows' stomachs. This type of lantern is the worst.
"The second lot we found had a circular wooden frame but it still had a criss-cross of thin wire holding the candle wick and the most recent lot were the environmental-friendly type with a wooden frame and thick cotton holding the wick.
"We have no idea who launched them as all three lots came from different directions. I think they should all be banned - even the so-called environment-friendly ones because they are not completely safe. I spotted the cows, who are pretty inquisitive, licking the last two to come down and who knows what problems they could suffer as a result.
"Consumers are always talking about the maintaining the welfare of livestock and then they let these things go up and, inevitably, they come back down on to our farmland."
The FUW has carried out an all-Wales survey of the problems created by Chinese lanterns and received reports of similar incidents in Flintshire, Glamorganshire and Carmarthenshire.
FUW's Glamorganshire county executive officer Adrian Evans said the son of a member was checking livestock at about 10pm one evening when he discovered a Chinese lantern had landed in a barn.
"It could very well have set the barn and it contents of hay and straw on fire as the lantern was still smouldering," Mr Evans added.
For sale on the internet for as little as £1.99 each, Chinese lanterns can fly for up to 20 minutes and rise over a mile into the sky. Traditionally flown during Chinese and Thai celebrations, they have been used for nearly 2,000 years.