Are Glue Traps Too Cruel to Use in the Fight Against Mice and Rats?

When New Yorkers concern themselves with rodents, they typically focus on how to kill them. But a new law proposed in Albany this month aims to protect them from a long-used extermination method now increasingly seen as unduly cruel, even to a rat: trapping them with glue until they starve, die of dehydration or are dispatched by hand.

The bill would ban the sale and use of what are known as glue boards — cheap, sticky traps that can be strewed around construction sites or tossed under kitchen cabinets and forgotten. If the legislation is successful, New York would join two other places that passed bans recently: Scotland, which in February banned the traps, and Ojai, a city in California with a population of about 7,500, which banned glue traps this month. In January, Representative Ted W. Lieu, a Democrat who represents Los Angeles, introduced the Glue Trap Prohibition Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Those pushing for the ban cite the trap’s gruesome method, the fact that other small animals — like songbirds and kittens — can become ensnared, and the risk of stuck rodents spreading disease.

“If you want an animal dead, there are lots of ways to do it, and torturing an animal to death isn’t the answer,” said Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, a Democrat who represents Manhattan’s East Side and who sponsored the bill in the State Assembly. “We don’t need to lose our humanity just because we don’t like having as many rodents in our midst as we currently do.”

But the bill’s detractors, including those who work in the pest-control industry and New Yorkers who have had one too many of the creatures scuttle past their ankles, say it’s misguided sympathy. A glue-trap ban doesn’t stop rats and mice from meeting other brutal ends from poison bait or spring-loaded snap traps.

“A lot of people who don’t actually have to face rats, mice, all these types of disgusting creatures, have a lot of opinions about them,” said Sam Liebowitz, who works at National Pest and Exterminators Supplies, a Brooklyn-based company that sells a variety of rodent-control methods, including poisons that work by causing the animal to bleed to death internally. “Glue boards aren’t fun, but there are so many things that are more cruel.”

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