CAMPAIGN groups are calling for a ban on large-scale balloon releases to save wildlife being killed by the waste.

Experts say there has been a huge increase in litter left behind by the release of balloons which have scattered across the coast, endangering wildlife.

Shocking photographs show birds entangled in debris of foil and latex balloons.

Now the Marine Conservation Society is calling for the banning of big releases of both types of balloon in order to protect the environment.

An MCS spokesman said: “Intentional outdoor releases of balloons and sky lanterns are an act of littering and should be classified as such.

“What goes up must eventually fall back down to earth and – or – sea, where it can either entangle wildlife or be ingested if certain species confuse balloons or balloon fragments for food.

“We are not against the use of balloons per se, and support their use when they are used and disposed of responsibly, but not released intentionally outdoors to add to the already significant amount of litter in the environment.

“We do not wish to prevent fundraising events or spoil people’s fun, and a number of alternative activities can still take place and be used to raise funds without the need to intentionally release balloons or sky lanterns into the atmosphere”.

The Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean found that balloon waste on UK beaches has increased by 200 per cent in just 10 years.

Per 100m of beach, they found, on average, 4.5 balloons – a huge increase from 1.5 in 2008.

The Royal Society for the Protection of birds agrees with the call for a ban. RSPB spokeswoman Jasmine Granton said: “Plastic pollution is something we can all help stop, whether it’s recycling plastic bottles or picking up the piece of litter.

“Unfortunately, balloon releases can put wildlife and their homes at risk as once they return to the ground after being release, they become a hazardous to wildlife for years, if not decades.

“If you’re planning a big event or celebration the RSPB would always recommend people think of an alternative way to celebrate that’s less harmful to wildlife on our doorstep.

“If we work together, we can put an end to the pollution we see around us making it a safer place for people and wildlife.”