Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital staff wash a sticky adhesive gel from a swallow which was affected after a property owner at Peregian used the product at his home. Photo: Ben Beaden.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital staff wash a sticky adhesive gel from a swallow which was affected after a property owner at Peregian used the product at his home. Photo: Ben Beaden. Photo: Ben Beaden.

Dozens of birds suffocate on sticky gel at Coast home

DOZENS of tiny birds met a sad death when a careless Peregian homeowner poured a sticky gel around their property in an effort to deter larger birds from roosting.  

Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital has urged people to consider native wildlife when implementing potentially harmful pest control methods around their homes following a devastating result for a flight of swallows last week.

Australia Zoo Rescue Unit was contacted to meet Environment and Heritage Protection rangers on Tuesday to collect a flight of 32 swallows which had been found drenched in a sticky, adhesive gel that restricted them from flying.  

The gel is designed to deter large birds from roosting in certain areas however the heavy gel can smother little birds and is not recommended for use on anything smaller than pigeons.  

A flight of 32 swallows was found drenched in a sticky, adhesive gel that restricted them from flying at a Peregian property. Photo: Ben Beaden.
A flight of 32 swallows was found drenched in a sticky, adhesive gel that restricted them from flying at a Peregian property. Photo: Ben Beaden. Photo: Ben Beaden.

The way the swallows were found indicated that the gel was used excessively resulting in them becoming drenched in the glue-like substance.

All 32 swallows were delivered by the Rescue Unit to the AZWH shortly after being collected.

It took two vets and four vet nurses many hours to remove the suffocating gel from the delicate birds weighing just 10 grams each.  

Of the 32 swallows admitted, 24 were so exhausted and smothered by the gel that they did not make it through the night despite the best efforts of the AZWH team.

The eight who survived were released in the general Peregian area where they flew away with ease.  

Dr Claude Lacasse, Veterinary Services Manager was the treating vet who, with her team tended to the tiny swallows at the AZWH.  

A flight of 32 swallows was found drenched in a sticky, adhesive gel that restricted them from flying at a Peregian property. Photo: Ben Beaden.
A flight of 32 swallows was found drenched in a sticky, adhesive gel that restricted them from flying at a Peregian property. Photo: Ben Beaden. Photo: Ben Beaden.

"It's highly unusual to see this many birds come in at once affected by the same thing and it's the first time I've ever seen this gel, it was like glue," she said.  

"It was really disheartening to see these swallows endure such a painful, stressful situation unnecessarily.  

Swallows are a harmless native species who suffered from the misuse of this product. There are other options available that don't cause such a negative impact on innocent animals."  

The swallows are not the only patients admitted as a result of pest control products with many possums affected by rodent bait, lizards caught in snap and sticky traps and snakes entangled in netting. Using poisons and traps incorrectly can also be extremely harmful to domestic pets.  

Depending on the product, dogs and cats can get second-hand poisoning from eating a smaller poisoned animal.   The most common products people need to take care with are:  

  • Rodent poison. Possums quite often eat these and become extremely sick. Look out for active ingredients like: warfarin, coumatetralyl, difenacoum, brodifacoum,flocoumafen and bromadiolone.
  • Rat traps that inflict injuries such as snap traps and leg traps. All kinds of other animals get stuck in the
  • Sticky rodent traps. Lizards often get stuck in these. If used, ensure they are not left in large open areas where general wildlife have access to them.
  • Bird proof gel which is designed to repel larger birds but can cause suffering and death to smaller bird species

 

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