The owls had to be rescued after they were snarled up by adhesive traps
The beautifully-camouflaged night-hunters had to be rescued over the space of a few days when they were snarled up by adhesive traps laid out to catch mice and rats.
One of the owls was found still stuck to the trap with glue coating its wings and tail.
Today the RSPCA hit out at the practice of laying down the legal but indiscriminate traps that can be sold on the high street.
The way glue traps are designed to catch animals inflicts pain and distress
It warned anyone using a glue trap and causing an animal to suffer unnecessarily could face prosecution, while deliberately setting a glue trap to catch, injure or kill a wild bird carries a six-month prison sentence and a £5,000 fine.
Both the owls found trapped in the West Country have been cleaned up by the animal welfare charity and are being prepared for release back into the wild.
The first tawny owl was rescued in St Columb, Cornwall, followed shortly by the second bird being discovered in Clapton In Gordano, North Somerset.
Many traps are sold in the high street
Although it is legal to catch rats and mice with glue, rodent predators such as owls are also at risk if they come into contact with the cardboard, plastic or wooden traps coated with non-drying adhesives.
Two years ago, a YouGov poll for the Humane Society International UK found 68 percent of those questioned in favour of the traps being banned.
Outlining the RSPCA’s opposition to glue traps, the charity scientific information Llewelyn Lowen said today: “We’re opposed to the manufacture, sale and use of all glue traps because they cause unacceptable suffering and are totally indiscriminate in what they catch, ensnaring wild animals like birds and even pets.
“Glue traps may seem like an effective way to catch rodents without killing them, but they come with very serious welfare issues and subject those animals unfortunate enough to get caught to horrific suffering.
“Even the way they’re designed to catch animals – by sticking their limbs to the board as they cross it – inflicts pain and distress.”
Animals stuck in glue traps have been known to gnaw their own limbs off trying to free themselves. Many die within 24 hours from starvation, dehydration, exhaustion and even suffocation, but others can take much longer, especially if the traps are not checked or the live victims are thrown away in the rubbish rather than put out of their misery.
Animals stuck in glue traps have been known to gnaw their own limbs off
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) and the National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA) put together a Code of Practice Humane for the Use of Rodent Glue Boards some years ago, listing a number of requirements, including frequent trap checks, protection of non-target species, humane dispatch of captured rodents…