The week in wildlife- glue traps

I’ve received several calls days in a row about birds who have become stuck in glue traps.  These traps are not only inhumane, trapping an animal alive and keeping it captive until it starves to death, they also are indiscriminate as to what they catch.  

How this happens

You may be trying to rid your home of mice and think this is a more helpful way than snap traps, only to find you have caught a bird.

Or you may have moved into a home where old glue traps are present and unknowingly caught a bird.

However it happens, here are the steps to take to remove a bird from a glue trap.

First steps

You will want to deactivate the glue immediately so the bird does not become more entrapped.  I like to use cornstarch for this as it deactivates the glue and is less harmful to the bird than coating the whole trap with oil.  Paper towels and leaves also work to cover the glue and prevent the bird from sticking more. You may also use a LITTLE cooking oil on the glue itself, not the bird.

The glue not only catches their feathers, but attaches itself to their skin.  You cannot just rip the bird off the trap, so staying calm and working methodically is important.

Next step

After you have deactivated the glue with cornstarch- or oil- you can start carefully dislodging the legs and wings with a spoon.  Liberally apply cornstarch to each part you are trying to remove and use the spoon as a wedge.  Any glue that comes off with the bird, if you use cornstarch, can be rolled off with your fingers.  

Carefully pry each part of the bird off, keeping it and yourself as calm as possible.  If you cannot remove the bird without removing feathers, such as tail feathers, do so as gently as possible.  The feathers are set into the birds skin and you can create wounds when yanking them out.

Cleaning the bird

Once you have the bird off the trap, you will need to remove the cornstarch or oil.  Both can be removed with Dawn dishwashing detergent and warm water.  This is why I prefer the cornstarch.  When you use oil, you need to more thoroughly bathe and handle the bird, subjecting it to further stress. 

You should give the bird time to rest in between these steps if the glue has been deactivated.  You do not want the bird to end up further stuck nor stressed to the point of a cardiac arrest.

To remove the oil get a basin of warm water with a strong solution of Dawn dishwashing detergent.  Use a washcloth to wipe the oiled parts.  Getting wet will chill the bird so do this in a warm area.

Final step

Once the oil has been removed, wrap the bird in towels warmed in the dryer and re-heat them as needed until the bird is thoroughly dry.

If the tail feathers stayed stuck to the glue, the bird will not be able to fly.  He will need to be transferred to a bird rehabilitator until those feathers grow back out.

If he kept most of his tail feathers you can let him go- after assuring all glue traps have been removed so this doesn’t happen again.

Asking for help

Contacting me or your nearest bird rehabilitator may be necessary but these are the first steps you should immediately do when encountering this sad situation.

Glue traps have been successfully banned in many stores because of how inhumane and indiscriminate they are. 

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