One of the things I became aware of the more involved I became with kites is the apparent or perceived impact kites have on wildlife. The majority of the news regarding actual impact on wildlife comes from India, or other locations
with large scale kite fighting. There have been a few beach locations in the United States that have closed off parts because of the perceived impact on migrating birds or other wildlife. I have yet to see the actual studies that show the effects here in the states, but the news articles and photographs from overseas are enough to convince me that this can be an issue.
On one hand it seems very logical that kites could have an impact, but it isn’t something that is at the forefront of my mind when thinking about flying kites. The way I look at it, the impact can be broken down into two camps.
1. Impact of discarded parts or byproducts of production
2. Impact from flying kites and disrupting or occupying the air space
I don’t know that there is a single correct answer to this, or a perfect set of rules for everyone to live by that would mitigate these impacts. It ultimately comes down to the individual flying kites, and their personal ethics. For myself to mitigate the impacts in the first category I look to do the following.
While flying - make sure to clean up all parts from a kite, including string or plastic that may break from the kite.
When building a kite - keep as many scraps as possible for either future use or repurposing. Minimize the waste material from supplies as much as possible.
I am really into using ‘natural’ or ‘traditional’ materials, and I am working on using that more and more in my creations. It is hard to get away from the ripstop nylon, fiberglass, and plastic connectors, but I do think about it.
For mitigating the impact in the second category, I focus on being more aware of my surroundings before the kite even comes out of the bag. As a kid I grew up playing in the woods surrounded by the natural world and wildlife. It feels normal for me to see myself as the one stepping into their world, I am the one stepping into the homes of the wild creatures that live there. So, like any other guest, I know it is important to be respectful and caring of someone else's home. That means watching to make sure I am not loud, or flying over the nursery. It means to watch out for the neighbors, it means being aware that what I see as my play space is another creatures hunting ground or bedroom.
Again, I don’t know that there is a perfect set of rules that can be applied that would mitigate all of the potential impacts of kite flying. This is just something that I think about as a part of being a responsible kite enthusiast. It also elevates my flying. It has to be looked at with a critical eye to space, impact, art. It adds ‘respect’ as a facet of kites. Hmmm… Perhaps this is something I should look deeper into and see if I can work with a research group for more concrete results.
Concerns over bird fatalities during kite festival in India: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/14/uttarayan-bird-fatalities-kite-festival-india-makar-sankranti-january-14
Burning kites from Gaza damage Israeli Farms, wildlife: https://www.foxnews.com/world/burning-kites-from-gaza-damage-israeli-farms-wildlife