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Natural World: Beware: Looking out for sticky wasp traps

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Birds caught unintentionally on a wasp glue stick. - (Photo by Rebecca Dmytryk)
  • Birds caught unintentionally on a wasp glue stick.(Photo by Rebecca Dmytryk)
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s if wild birds don't have enough to cope with in trying to keep from being killed by those giant windmills used to create electricity, with the overdone night lights that confuse them while trying to migrate, the tall glass buildings they run into and the poisons used in agriculture, along comes what was supposed to be an innocuous trap to capture pestiferous wasps, but captures and kills birds as well. Can't win for losin'.

Even some fly strips put up in barns to capture flies and other night-time insects—such as bothersome mosquitoes that spread diseases—also catch birds. The photo here shows a barn swallow in an all-too-sticky fly trap. It was rescued by photographer Rebecca Dmytryk of Wildlife Emergency Services in Moss Landing, Calif., and taken to a wild bird rehabber, Native Songbirds Care & Conservation.

People caring for birds that have been unintentionally trapped by these devices say it's almost always a lost cause trying to save them. The birds battle the mess there, losing additional feathers in the process, and become so exhausted using energy to escape that they're about done in when discovered.

In addition to fly and wasp traps, some people have taken to building glue boards outside to capture the rodents causing them problems inside houses, barns and other outbuildings. Recently, a wildlife rehabber in New Mexico rescued a roadrunner who had its tail and both feet stuck to a glue board a homeowner had placed outside for capturing unwanted mice.

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he roadrunner, an efficient mouse-catcher, probably found mice and small birds trapped on the board and went after them, only to find itself captured in the same way. It would have been really a mess if a raptor came come to dine on the roadrunner and it too got stuck to the board. It makes one wonder what would have happened if a golden eagle or other large raptor went after the roadrunner, got stuck to the board and flew off with it.

(When I band rough-legged hawks that come down from the Arctic to spend winter making a living on rodents in the Fort Rock haying community, I attach a weight to the board holding the hawk trap, in the event an eagle tries to get off with the mouse I use for bait.)

One outstanding element in this glue trap business is the firm, TrapStick, which has recalled its traps and asked retailers to remove it from shelves. Their engineers must not have anticipated capturing birds as well as insects, and probably had no idea how fatal it would be to small birds, such as chickadees, swallows and the like.

The recall is good news, and gives TrapStick high marks for being a responsible firm that doesn't want to go on killing birds. Hats off to them!

Small birds can become trapped, such as in this photo
  • Small birds can become trapped, such as in this photo

However, this problem could be solved by placing the TrapStick, or similar device, inside a 1/4-inch galvanized wire box/cage, leaving enough room so birds on the outside can't reach the insects caught on the sticky surface. Such a box would not work for a sticky board put out for rodents, however; that would have to be placed in a location where birds are not present.

Try as we may, we humans try to solve a problem involving wild animals—and invariably end up putting our foot into it, causing more problems than when we started. That said, if you have a wild animal (and insects are "animals") doing something you'd rather not have them do around your domicile, take your idea (or device) to the East Cascades Audubon Society in Bend. (Birders night is the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm at the Environmental Center in Bend.)

The ECAS membership is made up of birders and other people who appreciate all facets of the world of nature, coming from just about every walk of life, and would be happy to evaluate your ideas for operational success—while also not causing problems for the wildlife around us in the process.


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