LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – What goes up must come down and in this case, what comes down can be harmful to the environment.
That’s why with every step and every turn, Christian Daniels is on the hunt for Mylar balloons.
“Desert tortoises mistake them for flowers and will eat them,” Daniels explained. “The desert tortoises are already in danger with the constant building and loss of habitat and predation and the mylar balloons cause another disturbance with them.”
Daniels first started the Desert Balloon Project in early 2020. With a love for wildlife and the environment, he also picks up balloons and trash along the way to keep our desert clean. Having hiked over 900 miles, he’s collected over 3,000 balloons so far and counting.
“It doesn’t really matter where we go, we can just go somewhere and we’ll find them,” Daniels added.
8 News Now met up with Daniels at Tule Springs and within the first 10 minutes of the hike, six balloons were found. Most of them were stuck in shrubs and bushes with the strings tangled along the branches.
Although mylar balloons are made of nylon, the foil layer can conduct electricity and even cause power outages.
Desert tortoises also aren’t the only animals impacted. Birds and bighorn sheep can also get tangled up in the strings.
“There have actually been people who have sent me their photos,” Daniels said. “There’s this one guy who had a pet donkey and actually ate a Mylar balloon and died from it.”
Mylar balloons can also trap water which animals can smell miles away.
Despite hiking all over the valley, Daniels said he can’t get every single balloon by himself. He hopes others will join him on his cleanup and help spread the word.
“It brings me a lot of joy to educate people because they didn’t know this before and now, they do and now they’re going to stop releasing Mylar balloons,” Daniels added. “I actually want to bring attention to the politicians to get legislation passed so fewer balloons end up in the desert.”
Through his efforts, he has been able to partner with other organizations around the town including Protectors of Tule Springs, Southern Nevada Agency Partnership (SNAP), NV Energy, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
Those who would like to learn more or would like to help can contact Christian on Facebook or Instagram @DesertBalloonProject or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org