Ask Us: What’s the legality of balloon releases in Rowan County?

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 22, 2019


Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to

By Jessica Pautz

A Post reader asked why releasing balloons is OK if littering is illegal.

“The issue is not a matter that has been addressed by the N.C. Legislature, so there are no specific laws that deal with balloon releases,”┬ásaid Capt. John C. Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

The office has received no complaints about balloon releases resulting in littering, Sifford said.

The only way of littering with balloons, according to state law, is if someone intentionally uses them to litter.

And releasing balloons is not always criminal.

“Many groups have used them in the past as a method to aid in dealing with their sense of loss and grief,” Sifford said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says balloons can pose a threat to many animals.

“Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food, which can harm or kill them,” the agency said.

The World Animal Foundation says balloon releases can have “deadly consequences for the environment.”

“It seems in recent times that more groups are using alternate methods,” Sifford said.

Environmentally friendly alternatives to balloon releases include blowing bubbles, lighting candles and floating flowers or flower petals.