England bans glue traps in ‘quick victory’ for wildlife

reading time: 3 Minutes

The use of glue traps to catch mice and rats is set to be banned in England thanks to a private members’ bill that won unanimous support in the House of Lords today.

Humane Society International/UK (HSI) – the animal rights charity that championed the anti-glue trap campaign, Unstuck – welcomed the news, calling it a “crucial victory” for wildlife across the country.

What are glue traps, and are they ethical?

Glue traps are pieces of cardboard, plastic, or fibreboard covered with a strong, non-disposable adhesive, designed to immobilize animals wandering through them.

HSI considered traps “Inhumane” and “indefensible”, Because animals caught in one can suffer broken or dislocated bones, torn skin, suffocation, vision loss, dehydration or starvation if left long enough.

Some animals caught in a gum trap allegedly chewed their limbs in an attempt to free themselves.

And it’s not just rats and mice that fall victim to the devices. According to HSI, protected and endangered species including hedgehogs, birds, bats and pet cats are also known to cause injuries, many of them fatal.

Hedgehogs and other wild animals can also fall victim to glue traps. credit: Adobe Stock

Ban glue traps

Despite the complications with animal welfare, glue traps are widely available in the UK, with many costing 99p. And while the new legislation would not ban their sale, it would be illegal for members of the public, including ‘pest watchers’, to use one in England without a license.

Those who violate the new law will be punished with a fine and/or up to 51 weeks in prison.

Moreover, falling into the glue trap and not checking, without good reason, that it has been disabled would also be a crime.

The legislation contains a limited exemption, which will allow workers in the “pest” management to apply for a glue trap license through the Secretary of State. This can only be carried out when “no other satisfactory solution exists”, and when it is necessary “for the purpose of maintaining public health or safety”.

Claire Bass, chief executive of HSI/UK – which has described glue traps as “primitive devices causing horrific suffering to millions of animals” – hopes the ban will spur industry changes.

“It is absolutely right to ban their use in public places, and we hope this will expedite their removal from sale by retailers because it would be illegal for their customers to use them,” Bass said.

“The licensing system for the use of glue traps by the ‘pest’ control industry must be strictly managed to ensure that these harsh products are not used accidentally with impunity,” she added.

A similar exemption was included in the 2015 glue trap ban in New Zealand, but licenses continued to decline. In fact, there were no license approvals in New Zealand at all last year.

Chris Packham on ‘Compassionate’ Wildlife Management

Chris Packham advocated an updated approach to coexistence with wildlife. credit: jeremy sutton-hibbert / Alamy Stock Photo

Naturalist and vegetarian Chris Packham Was delighted by the news. “When wildlife, such as mice and rats, manage to live alongside humans, we call them ‘pests’ or ‘insects’ and we seem to think this is a green light to completely ignore their welfare,” he said in a statement.

“Glue traps are a prime example of this. This situation must change.”

The presenter added, “I am delighted that these harsh and unnecessary glue traps will now be removed from public use, prompting a more compassionate and also effective approach to dealing with unwanted wildlife.”

“This law is good news for mice and rats, but it is also for the many unintended victims who get stuck in glue, such as delicate birds, grass snakes, frogs, and hedgehogs.”

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