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Wildlife experts warn spotted lanternfly traps are killing birds, bats, squirrels, and other animals

The animals and their young are getting stuck to the traps meant for the invasive insect. It's a traumatic experience for wildlife that can also be deadly.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Wildlife experts have an urgent message for people who apply sticky bands to trees in an effort to catch spotted lanternflies: The bands are catching other animals and either injuring or killing them. The photos and video could be considered disturbing to some people.

“It’s heartbreaking to see these animals looking at you, and you're trying to work as fast as you can and try to assure them 'I'm not hurting you and want to help you,’” explained Tracie Young, the director of Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Manor Township, Lancaster County. 

Friday afternoon, two birds are brought to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center where Young worked diligently to save their lives.

“Skin is attached to this [the paper],” she explained. “Fur is attached to this. Bones are attached to this so we don't want to do any more damage, you know, that might already be done. We're trying to get to the media. We're trying to reach to the public — putting the paper up is fine, but please put either chicken wire or some sort of wire around it so that the other wildlife cannot get stuck to it.”

People are applying the sticky paper to trees; the paper is not only catching the insects but also birds, bats, squirrels, and other animals who like to climb up them. Some wildlife have babies, and Young says the babies are also getting stuck.

“It got to the point where we're averaging two to three animals a day,” explained Young.

The experts say it's a traumatic experience for the animals, if they even survive the ordeal. Some of the birds at Raven Ridge have not made it.

Young takes video of the removal process; some of her videos have received hundreds of shares on the center's Facebook page.

Woodpecker removed from lanternfly paper

Removing the red-billed woodpecker from the lanternfly paper upon admission. It is a very stressful process for these animals that need to be removed from the lanternfly paper.

Posted by Raven Ridge Wildlife Center on Sunday, June 14, 2020

“They're exhausted,” explained Young. “They're stressed out. They can't get away. so, now that they’re prey, now, a human's coming in and and taking them down off of the tree.”

Before attempting to remove the animals, Young gives the wildlife pain medicine to relax. Then, she covers the birds in cornstarch before she applies a special liquid to begin the removal process. Afterwards, Young gives the birds any necessary antibiotics and places them in a cage to rest for an hour. Then, the wildlife will be bathed, similar to how animals are bathed after oil spills. The process may be expensive and time consuming for wildlife rehabilitators across the state, but Young says it's a job meant only for them.

She says people should not try to remove an animal from the paper at home. Call Raven Ridge or another wildlife rescue.

You can find instructions on how to build a cage around the paper on the PennState Extension website. 

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