WildCare recently helped Marin Humane animal services officers free a dark-eyed junco from a sticky trap.

Thirteen years ago, I had just moved into a large apartment complex in New Jersey. One evening, I peered underneath the bed to retrieve an item that had fallen and rolled out of sight. It was at that moment I spotted something that seemed completely out of place. I shrank away from the object in horror. Underneath my bed was a dead mouse stuck on a glue trap.

After the initial shock, I vividly remember the guilt and regret I felt over this discovery. Without my approval (or even knowledge), the monthly exterminator visits apparently included placing these atrocious devices in tenants’ apartments. The thought of this helpless creature’s prolonged suffering haunts me to this day.

No one wants to open their pantry and find the tell-tale droppings of rodents, or even glimpse a little furry creature (who isn’t your pet) scurrying away. But glue traps are not the answer. Despite being marketed as safe alternatives, what occurs after an animal gets stuck is horrific. The glue is nontoxic, and it doesn’t end the animal’s life. Instead, animals stuck to glue traps must wait to die, slowly, of dehydration, starvation and exposure.

And they don’t kill just mice and rats. Just last week, our friends at WildCare helped Marin Humane animal services officers free a dark-eyed junco from sticky traps. WildCare admits a dozen or more animals stuck to glue traps every year into their wildlife hospital, and each one is heartbreaking. According to their website, animals stuck to glue traps will rip off their own skin and fur trying to escape. They will even chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to get away. They inflict terrible injuries on themselves, even fracturing limbs, trying to get free. And glue traps kill indiscriminately. Bats, birds and snakes are all known to find themselves ensnared in glue traps.

“Most people are appalled when they see what happens to an animal stuck to a glue trap, and no matter how much they may despise the animal they intended to trap, many people bring glue-trapped rodents (and other animals) to the Wildlife Hospital expressing deep regret and horror at the realities of how glue traps work,” says WildCare director of communications Alison Hermance.

Upon intake, WildCare medical staff sedate the stuck animal, and carefully and painstakingly removes it from the glue. This must be done with the utmost care to prevent further injury and to protect feathers and delicate bones. Oil should never be used to remove a bird from a sticky trap; any animal in this situation needs professional care at a wildlife hospital like WildCare.

The best method of rodent control is prevention. Rodents tend to set up camp in our homes when food and space are made available to them. Eliminate food sources, exclude rodents from your home and use humane catch-and-release traps to evict any existing rodents from your home — but you must prevent their return by sealing entrance and exit holes and removing attractants. Never place any kind of trap outside your home.

Marin Humane and WildCare urge you never use glue or sticky traps under any circumstance. Give friends and family the facts about the slow and brutal death glue traps inflict on animals, and ask them to help spread the word.