Bunnings, Amazon, eBay urged to ban sale of 'horrific' devices

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·Environment Editor
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Bunnings, Amazon and eBay should immediately stop selling "cruel" glue traps, frustrated wildlife Aussie rescuers say.

Starvation and dehydration followed by death is the fate native species often endure, after they unwittingly venture into the pest control devices.

While the targets are usually mice, rats and insects, their catch can be indiscriminate.

Major retailers including Bunnings, eBay and Amazon have been urged to stop selling glue traps. Source: Getty - File Image
Major retailers including Bunnings, eBay and Amazon have been urged to stop selling glue traps. Source: Getty - File Image

By sharing horrifying images of bats, bandicoots, magpies, kookaburras and blue-tongue lizards all snared by the sticky traps, rescuers hope consumer pressure will force retailers to withdraw them from sale, and regulators to act.

The renewed call for change is being driven by Cat Coake, a Queensland-based wildlife carer, who said the devices can result in animals suffering for hours or even days.

“They may be trapped on their side, or face down… and will often cry out in distress,” she said.

“Some animals break bones and tear off or even bite through their own limbs in an attempt to free themselves.

“There’s more humane ways to control pests; we’re in the 2020s and there’s zero reason for these to even exist anymore.”

This magpie died and in a seperate incident this blue tongue lizard taken into care after they were caught in glue traps. Source: Point Cook Wildlife Care Inc / Sydney Wildlife Rescue
A magpie died and in a seperate incident a blue tongue lizard was taken into care after they were caught in glue traps. Source: Point Cook Wildlife Care Inc / Sydney Wildlife Rescue

Snake glue traps being offered on eBay and Amazon

Of the two types of glue devices, the most contentious are ground based flat traps used to capture rats and mice.

While these varieties are banned in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, rescuers say irrespective of legislation, they are still frequently sold in both discount stores and by sellers on online platforms.

Some products listed on eBay and Amazon’s overseas pages, but available for purchase in Australia, even advertise they catch snakes, despite all native reptiles being protected across the country.

Bunnings only sell glue traps designed to catch insects, with most intended for indoor use, although rescuers believe they could still catch bats and native birds.

Microbats are frequently caught in insect glue traps. Source: Microbats of Melbourne
Microbats are frequently caught in insect glue traps. Source: Microbats of Melbourne

eBay pulls glue traps from store after questioning

eBay maintains glue traps “cannot be listed for sale” on their online site because the company is “committed to animal welfare”.

“In 2020 our filtering algorithms removed 258-million prohibited or restricted listings from eBay globally,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

Despite the assertion, Yahoo News Australia noted countless local and overseas sellers offering glue traps on their site, with one having allegedly sold 316 rat, snake and mouse glue traps.

Irrespective of the state ban, two sellers confirmed privately they could ship products to Victoria.

Following questions from Yahoo News Australia, eBay said they had removed the listings, however at the time of writing a number were found to be still available on their site, including varieties from two sellers based in NSW.

This native quenda (southern brown bandicoot) was nursed back to health after becoming stuck to a glue trap. Source:  Darling Range Wildlife Shelter WA
This native quenda (southern brown bandicoot) was nursed back to health after becoming stuck to a glue trap. Source: Darling Range Wildlife Shelter WA

Amazon aiming to stop glue traps reaching Australia

Amazon Australia said it prohibits the sale of glue traps, but confirmed the products are available to Australian customers via their US site.

“We have proactive measures in place to prevent prohibited products from being listed and we continuously monitor our store,” a spokesperson said.

“Sellers who violate our policies are subject to action including potential removal of their account.”

Following questions from Yahoo News Australia, the company said their US store will now be “exploring measures” to stop glue traps being shipped to Australia.

Bunnings continue to offer insect glue traps despite wildlife concerns

While Bunnings do not sell ground-based traps intended to catch rodents, they continue to offer products designed to ensnare insects.

One commercial product offered by the retailer provides 120 metres of coverage, an “open design” and UV lamps to “maximise attraction”.

Bunnings general manager of merchandise Adrian Pearce said “like other retailers” they offer a range of insect traps, which comply with all state and territory government standards.

“We understand there are risks associated with the use of sticky insect traps… for birds and some wildlife,” he said.

The company maintain its traps are coated in a low strength glue so they can’t capture birds or mammals.

When it comes to pest control, Bunnings said it is working to innovate and is rolling out clearer information for consumers about rodenticides, another product the retailer stocks which impacts Australia's wildlife.

Bat rescuer blames insect sticky traps for wildlife deaths

Ericka Tudhope, a rescuer with Microbats of Melbourne, remains concerned by the sale of glue traps at Bunnings.

She told Yahoo News Australia it’s actually insect catchers that most often snare bats, and she wants to see all varieties banned.

Searches revealed Australian customers are able to purchase snake, rat and mouse glue traps from eBay and Amazon. Source: eBay / Amazon
Searches revealed Australian customers are able to purchase snake, rat and mouse glue traps from eBay and Amazon. Source: eBay / Amazon

Once stuck to the trap, Ms Tudhope said tiny native bats frequently suffer torn skin and rips to their sensitive wing membranes.

“It's normally this time of year, so right through January to March we get an influx of bats caught on sticky traps,” she said.

“Things are nice and warm, insects are out and crazy and juvenile bats are learning to fly.”

What you should do if you find a trapped bat

Due to degradation of their wing membrane from the glue, rescued bats which do survive can take up to two months to recover, and require specialised care.

Ms Tudhope urges anyone who finds a trapped bat not to try and free it themselves, as that can often lead to more severe injuries like wings being ripped off.

“It can be quite horrific, and that that's generally why we tell people not to try and take them off,” she said.

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