A Tawny owl Photo by Kai Wenzel on Unsplash downloaded 30 05 2020

Glue trap causes irreparable damage to tawny owl’s wings

The RSPCA is urging people never to buy or use glue traps after a tawny owl suffered irreparable damage to his wings after getting stuck to one of these sticky boards.

RSPCA inspector Gina Stallon was called to Mentmore Crescent, Dunstable in Bedfordshire, on Thursday (21 May 2020) after someone found the stricken bird in their back garden. She said:

“We were contacted by a resident who had gone into his garden to investigate after hearing a noise and discovered the owl stuck to the cardboard.

“I went to try to help the bird but the poor thing was covered in the sticky glue. He had it all over his beak and was stuck to the board by the backs of his wings and his tail.

“He was extremely distressed and was barely moving so I was extremely concerned. I have no idea how long he’d been stuck or how he’d ended up in the trap but he was exhausted and barely alive by the time he was discovered by this worried man.

“Unfortunately he’d broken all of his main flight feathers in the struggle so I made the difficult decision there and then to put him to sleep and end his suffering. It was heartbreaking.”

The RSPCA is opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all glue traps, it said that they cause unacceptable suffering to both the target species and other non-target species which fall victim to them.

Glue traps – also known as ‘glue boards’ or ‘sticky boards’ – consist of a sheet of cardboard, plastic or wood coated with non-drying adhesive, and they are legal to use to catch rats and mice. But anyone using these traps should take precautions to prevent causing death or injury to any non-target animals as these traps are indiscriminate.

Gina added:

“I have no idea how this beautiful bird became stuck on this awful trap. I wonder if he’d been hunting and got stuck on the trap accidentally.

“These are hideous traps and cause horrendous suffering to animals who become caught on them. They usually die slow and painful deaths.

“That’s why we’d urge people not to use these horrible traps and, instead, to investigate humane methods of deterring rodents.”

Deterring rodents humanely

The RSPCA has the following tips on humane ways to deter rodents:

  • Remove food sources and ensure bins and containers are rodent-proof
  • Plant repellents such as wood hyacinth, allium and daffodils can help keep rodents at bay
  • De-clutter and keep storage areas tidy
  • Rodents are neophobic (they fear change) so move garden furniture and objects around your garden to confuse and alarm them

The RSPCA believes that if glue traps must be used, it should only be by trained professionals. The charity has asked people to contact them if they see a shop selling these traps to the public.

To find out more about the RSPCA’s Wild Animals and Glue Traps project or for more advice about living with rodents and how best to humanely deter them from your home and garden please visit Living with Wildlife.

To report a live animal caught in a glue trap, contact the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to intentionally kill or injure wild birds. The RSPCA did supply images of this owl, but the Chronicle felt that they were too upsetting to share.

To help the RSPCA keep rescuing animals like these and keep its animal hospitals and centres running for emergency treatment and round the clock care through these unprecedented times, please donate whatever you can spare at www.rspca.org.uk/covid.