BRADENTON, Fla. -- A young screech owl rescued in Manatee County is receiving medical care after the owl was found stuck to a glue trap that a homeowner placed outside to catch insects.
Wildlife experts say glue traps should only be used indoors.
Justin Matthews, the founder of Matthews Wildlife Rescue, says he responds to around five calls a day. “90% of the animals we rescue, it all happens because of people.”
That was exactly what happened three days ago when Matthews received a call about a wild screech owl. “Someone said a screech owl got stuck in a bug trap. I didn’t understand what she was talking about.”
When he got to the home he found a young screech owl stuck to a glue trap that was hanging outdoors. Matthews did his best to remove the glue from the owl’s feathers.
“The bird is getting better. It is eating, but there is some damage to the primary [feathers].”
On Thursday, Matthews took the owl to Bayshore Animal Hospital to be checked out.
“I'm just making sure his wings are okay, since he was flailing around,” said Jenny Henry, a veterinary assistant that handles most of the wildlife brought to the clinic.
She believes the juvenile owl was most likely trying to eat insects stuck to the trap. “90% of a screech owl’s diet is insects. They are opportunistic, they will eat anything from lizards to other birds, but most of their foods is insects -- especially cockroaches like the palmetto bug.”
Henry says sticky traps are terrible for wildlife and should only be used indoors. “Really the best insect and rodent control you have are the birds. And so I tell people if you want to get rid of your cockroach population, build screech owl boxes cause they actually do better in urban environments than they are doing out in the wild.”
If all the glue can be removed without damaging the feathers, the owl will make a quick recovery. If his feathers are damaged, he will spend a year in rehab before returning to the wild.
If you come across injured wildlife, the best thing to do is leave it where you found it and call a wildlife rescue expert. They will be able to quickly determine if it actually needs to be rescued or if, for example, it is just a baby bird learning to fly.