Marion County ranchers share livestock health concern with deflated balloons found on property

The ranchers report seeing anywhere from five to eight balloons on their land every month.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 8:15 PM CDT
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MARION COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - Ranchers in Marion County are dealing with a health and safety concern with their cattle. The problem comes from above and usually originates with a celebration miles away. The ranchers report seeing anywhere from five to eight balloons per month on their land, a figure that comes out to 60 to nearly 100 per year.

For Rex Savage and his wife, Carolyn, finding balloons on their rural Marion County property is a regular occurrence.

“We find them in fences, we find them in tree, we find them in the grass, and unfortunately and occasionally, inside of dead livestock,” Rex said.

Last week, the Savages found a balloon in a calf’s mouth. Now, they want to spread awareness on what harm a balloon can cause to their animals.

“If they’ve fully swallowed it, you’re probably not going to know it happened until they’re finally down and dying,” Rex said. “if they haven’t fully swallowed it and it’s still in their mouth, if they won’t drop it or can’t drop it, we have to pin them and physically remove it.”

With south and southwesterly winds, balloons from Wichita can end up on their land or their neighbors’ property.

“We have littering laws. It’s illegal for me to dump my trash on somebody’ else’s property. I would be fiend and punished appropriately,” Rex said. “This is no different, other than, as well as a litter factor, (it) presents a danger factor for livestock and wildlife.”

While the Savages understands balloons are often part of celebratory gatherings, they hope an understanding of where balloons can end up and the problems they can cause will lead to more responsibility when it comes to releasing them.

“At a minimum, go to a biodegradable product,” Rex said. “If that’s not available, then let’s cease the helium balloon launches and you know, keep them inflated with air so they stay local at least then. Hopefully, they can stay where they can be gathered up without damage.”