Glue traps turn menace for wildlife
Pawan Sharma, founder, RAWW, said, “We have rescued several species from glue traps which are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act
Mumbai: Despite the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) having issued prohibitory orders over two decades ago, glue traps -- a commonly available device to catch and kill rodents -- are increasingly turning into a menace for wildlife in and around the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), experts say. As per the AWBI, the use of glue traps is in contravention of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960).
The Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), a registered charitable trust that carries out wildlife rescues and collaborates with the forest department for the same, has received at least 200 distress calls over the last two-and-a-half years and has rescued a variety of protected species that have inadvertently gotten caught in these contraptions.
Pawan Sharma, founder, RAWW, said, “We have rescued several species from glue traps which are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act. We have got multiple instances of Russell’s vipers, Indian rock pythons, Indian spectacled cobras, eagles, owls, kingfishers and even monitor lizards. This is in addition to more common animals which do not have protection under the Act, like pigeons, bats, squirrels and frogs. Our records have somewhere between 200 to 230 such incidents in just over two years.”
Snakes and other creatures who prey on rodents are particularly vulnerable, as they can easily slither into these traps while on the hunt. Moreover, the glue in these devices is made from industrial strength, non-drying adhesives, and can grievously injure trapped animals by ripping off patches of skin as they struggle to escape. RAWW volunteers have even come across specimens, like frogs, which have been dismembered after getting trapped. In most cases, the animals die extremely painful, prolonged deaths from exhaustion, asphyxiation or blood loss.
“In most instances we have been able to rescue the creatures, but sometimes they are either dead or beyond saving. The longer the animal remains in the glue, the lesser its chances of survival. We have to be very careful in handling them. Sometimes the harder you try to extricate them from the adhesive, the more their chances of injury,” Sharma explained.
These devices are not just a local concern. Recently, in the states of New York and New Jersey in the USA, glue traps meant to control the population of invasive lanternflies were found to pose a serious threat to birds. Animal rights organisations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have also launched campaigns in the west urging big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes to stop selling these devices.
In May this year, big box retailer Target completely discontinued the sale of these contraptions following condemnation from animal rights activists, joining a string of other retailers like Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree which had discontinued their sales earlier.
However, a cursory online search reveals that these products are widely available in India, even though the AWBI had, as early as 2001, requested all states and union territories in the country to “issue appropriate directions to prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of glue traps.”
Sunish Kunju, an animal welfare activist and honorary wildlife warden with the forest department, said, “I have also rescued several animals from these traps, including pigeons, sparrows and snakes. It is very sad that despite the AWBI clear directions, they are continuing to be produced and sold without any concern for the animals. Even rodents, who are pests, have to be controlled in a more humane way.”