NEW YORK CITY – At first, Sarah Valerie thought the dead birds and stray feathers she found stuck in trees near Brooklyn Army Station on Saturday were a horrific installation.
But when Valerie took a closer look, she saw something that left her “panicked”: a lively softwoodpecker struggling to escape from a glue trap wrapped around a tree trunk.
What Valerie found wasn’t art, it was the accidental slaughter of birds due to glue traps apparently intended to kill invading spotted lanterns.
“It was a very horrific sight,” Valerie said.
Valeria, an artist and art therapist, hastened to save the woodpecker. But the bird died later, just like dozens of others in what was called the Wild Bird Fund.”Misleading pest control project. “
“Several trees in the area have been wrapped in cling film in a possible attempt to control spotted lanterns,” the Wild Bird Fund wrote on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which operates the Brooklyn Military Station, said an exterminator “immediately” removed the traps as soon as officials became aware of the dangers they posed.
“The extermination company initially recommended setting traps low on trees to protect them from spotted lanterns that have been known to damage and kill,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Going forward, we will not allow these traps to be used on campus.”
New Yorkers have seen the spotted lantern fly explode in numbers across the city this year as sap-sucking insects flutter through the air and tree trunks in an orgy.
Concerns about lantern fly infestations harming state vineyards prompted the city’s parks department to issue a “one-time call”: Crush the insect within sight.
But experts have also warned New Yorkers not to exaggerate measures that do more harm than good.
Catherine Coyle, director of social media at Wild Bird Fund, said glue traps are one such step that involves overkill.
“People should know that glue traps are indiscriminate, they kill anything that comes into contact with them,” she said.
“We never recommend the use of glue traps.”
Coyle said the Wild Bird Trust has handled rodent glue traps instead of hunting birds in the past, but their use against spotted lanterns is new.
Instead, the Wild Bird Trust recommends using a “circular trap” – a plastic-coated tunnel that insects walk through – to catch lantern flies. More information about circular traps can be found here.
Such circular traps wouldn’t turn out to be the bird-death traps that Valerie saw near the Brooklyn Army Station – a field of trees studded with dead birds, struggling live birds and feathers plucked from others that somehow broke off.
Quayle Good Samaritans warned against trying to remove stuck birds from the glue traps themselves. She said the Wild Bird Box recommends covering exposed adhesive paper with paper towels and placing the entire package, birds and all, inside a well-ventilated container such as a cardboard box.
People should bring these containers full of birds to the Wild Bird Fund or to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation provider, which can be found here.
But even then, she said, the birds are still out of the woods.
“Even if you can rescue a bird stuck in a glue trap, it usually takes a long time in captivity for feathers to grow,” she said.
Coyle said the woodpecker that Valerie tried to save may have died of stress, as did the other birds.
Valerie said she was disappointed to learn that the woodpecker had died. She hopes her death will scare people from using glue traps, whether against lantern flies or other wild animals.
“We really hope that people will stop using them,” Valerie said.