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Using sticky tape to trap spotted lanternflies can have unintended consequences for other animals, rescue center says

Raven Ridge Wildlife Center said it already has had to extract two birds that were found caught in tape last week. Here's how you can make the traps safer.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Applying sticky bands to tape to trees is an effective way to catch and dispose of those pesky spotted lanternflies, but it can have an unintended consequence, wildlife rescue experts say.

The tape can also be harmful to birds, squirrels, and other animals that get caught on the sticky surface.

So as spring arrives and lanternfly season begins, the wildlife experts at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Lancaster County are urging those who use the tape to add a screen mesh around it so that other animals can stay safe.

In a recent Facebook post, the Center said it has already had to euthanize a small nuthatch that was brought in after getting stuck in the tape. A bluebird that was brought to the Washington Boro rescue center survived being extracted from tape and is now healing, the Center said.

"This tape is so sticky that the animal ultimately ends up dying from the stress of being stuck," the Center's post said. "Or the wounds and loss of feathers, fur, and skin is too much to endure and have to be euthanized."

Raven Ridge said the process of extracting animals from the sticky tape is a long, involved process. The animals must first be given pain medicine and need time to decompress before removal can begin.

If you find an animal trapped on sticky tape, the Center said, you should avoid trying to remove it yourself.

While we know people have good intentions of trying to help the animals, it can cause more damage or even death," the Center said.

Instead, Raven Ridge recommends the following steps:

  • Cut the tape around the animal
  • Place the animal inside a box with a lid, to ensure it is warm and in the dark
  • Transport it to your nearest animal rehabilitation or rescue center, where a trained professional can help it

Raven Ridge said it is hopeful that the bluebird it rescued last week can be returned to the wild after it is fully healed.

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