Summer should be a time of joy for nature lovers. Young wild animals are venturing out and learning important lessons so they can carry on their species. For us, the skies should be full of young bats on their early forays, following their mothers as they observe her hunting. But, the skies are practically empty in the mountains at HQ with the loss of 90% of our cave dependent hibernators, most notably, the little brown bat and tricolor bat.
In fact, we find ourselves looking to suburbia to find bats. Big brown bats are filling the roosts once occupied by little browns, and, as a more resident bat, they stay closer to “home”, the roost where they were born. Eastern red bats make use suburban and urban green spaces, where they can take advantage of abundant moths drawn in by artificial lights. And even some of our threatened and endangered species like northern long ears and tricolored bats turn up more frequently in suburbia.
So imagine our heartbreak when we have to face the outright cruelty bats encounter when humans are the dominant animal on the landscape. Some, like a female little brown bat in Roanoke, are deliberately injured or killed out of fear or ignorance. But many are harmed by the casual cruelty of ‘pest control’ measures, whether that be because dependent pups and their mothers are separated by poorly timed exclusions or by misguided attempts to ‘control’ insects and rodents, like last night’s juvenile big brown bat, deliberately sandwiched in a glue board from which she could not escape.
She was encased in glue, still alive, when she arrived at Rehabber Kim’s, and despite a race to free her, she died. She died with a mangled wing, with three broken fingers and bloody holes, sustained in her desperate attempt to free herself. She died with a mouthful of toxic glue. She died, stuck, terrified, and broken because of someone’s idea of “convenience”.
We do not know who deliberately folded the glue board over her, and we are grateful to the person wo found her and sought help. But this issue cannot be solved one glued animal at a time.
Why does this keep happening? Because people aren’t demanding it stop. You can buy a glue board in any hardware, grocery, or farm supply store. “Pest control” and “wildlife removal” companies often employ glue boards, assuring homeowners they will eliminate whatever unwanted animal is in residence, even if that animal is protected from lethal control. But these shortcuts are cruel, indiscriminate, and barbaric.
It is past time to eliminate ‘pest control’ measures that result in the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands, of native wild animals. Glue boards are inhumane to the rodents they are designed to catch and do not magically limit themselves to just the target animals. A quick internet search will turn up gruesome photos of birds, lizard, toads, bats, snakes, butterflies, chipmunks and even rabbits caught on glue boards.
So what can we do? Keep talking. Keep sharing those photos, no matter how heartbreaking. Use the power of your wallet–hire pest control companies that employ humane exclusions rather than lethal control. Approach locally owned businesses and ask that glue boards come off the shelves. Ask legislators to DO SOMETHING! And finally, demand that laws be changed to protect wildlife and remove the option for lethal ‘control’ of wildlife in residences. Humane exclusion is the ONLY way to remove wildlife from a structure and prevent future occupancy. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. But it is a permanent solution to what is in actuality a home improvement issue. And most of all, it is humane to the wayward juveniles who will otherwise never have a chance to fly free in the night sky.