The little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) likely was attracted by the buzzing of captured insects. It scrambled into the little cardboard tent and immediately found itself trapped as well, bound by a potent adhesive to the floor of the “glue trap.” And there it died, not pleasantly.
Few of us are fond of sharing our homes with mice and rats, and the two main methods of control – traps and poisons – both pose the risk of unintentionally killing non-target wildlife. But the glue trap, a lesser-known rodent-eradication method, has proved to be exceptionally lethal to bats.
Glue traps are marketed worldwide as an effective, nontoxic tool for controlling pests. The traps consist of cardboard tents, fiberboard or plastic boards coated with a special glue that captures and secures insects and small animals. Manufacturers tout the convenience of glue traps; some even offer a “No See” trap for those unable to stomach the sight of a dead animal. In fact, glue-trap advertising and packaging use discreet code words, such as “capture,” “hold” or “secure,” to bypass the reality of death by dehydration, starvation, exposure, suffocation or predation.
Because of the potential for animal injury, suffering and distress, glue traps have been banned in Ireland and Victoria, Australia, with bans under discussion in other countries.
Last summer, a conservation officer in Stanley, Idaho, was called to remove dead bats from a residence. He brought them to my Idaho Department of Fish and Game facility for testing. When I opened the package to investigate, I found two dead little brown myotis mired in the sticky adhesive of glue traps. The traps had been set indoors to capture mice, but the bats found their way into the building through a vent pipe.
Even indoors, glue traps do not discriminate between unwanted pests and valuable allies. Set outdoors, potential victims include non-target birds, reptiles, amphibians, squirrels – even pets. The risk to bats is so widespread that wildlife rehabilitation groups, including Bat World Sanctuary, post instructions for safely removing wildlife from glue traps.
Awareness of this unintentional threat to bats is a first step toward minimizing the impact of glue traps on wildlife. Use your consumer power to choose more humane pest-control options. Taking personal responsibility when choosing and using pest-control methods can make a real difference in the lives of wild creatures.