Bats join birds as victims of lanternfly tape in Pa.

Environment

COLUMBIA, Pa. (WHTM) — Rosemarie Curcio volunteers with Raven Ridge Wildlife Center. Her specialty, bats.

“I have actually a total of sixteen pups, thirteen of which I am actually taking care of, meaning I am actually hand feeding them,” she said. At least at this point, they’re past the early stage, when she has to feed them every three or four hours, around the clock.

The pups seem to be doing well, but it’s another story for a different group of bats.

“I have received several bats that were stuck on the lanternfly tape.”

This is a problem we first told you about last year-animals getting stuck on large sheets of sticky tape wrapped around trees to catch spotted lanternflies. Birds get a lot of the attention, but Tracie Young, Rehabber at Raven Ridge, says it’s not just birds.

“It’s also squirrels, it’s bats, it’s opossums, owls, and we’ve also had to remove hawks from it.” She says this year they see animals coming two or three at a time. “So the woodpecker’s coming after the bug, the woodpecker gets stuck, and then the hawk sees the woodpecker and then tries to get the woodpecker, so it’s a chain reaction.”

Bats are especially vulnerable when they roost in trees. “And they’ll land on a tree trunk, and they climb up and get themselves caught.” says Rosemarie, “And also there are insects around these tapes, that get caught in there, and they’re probably going after the insects.”

For the bats, it’s particularly stressful and painful.

“They’ll come in stretched out, wings totally stuck on the tape, sometimes their face, their lower jaw as well,” Rosemarie says, “And they keep attempting, they try to get themselves off the tape, and in their attempt to get themselves off the tape, they’re often breaking bones and causing further injuries.”

What’s most frustrating for the rehabbers is that even if they successfully remove the animals from the tape, they usually die in a day or two anyway.

“We’ve had about thirty this year, and only three have made it,” Tracie said. “We take animals off of fly traps, the kind like you hang in your garage, we’ve taken animals off of the mouse traps, the glue mouse traps, and we’re successful at that. We’re able to rehabilitate them, remove them from that, and re-release them. But the animals that are coming in on this are not making it.”

The rehabbers suspect the tape is somehow adding to the problem, but aren’t sure how. Rosemarie suspects it’s not just what gets on the animals, but what gets inside.

“I do believe they ingest, in their attempt to groom, they’re ingesting whatever is on the tape, and I believe ultimately it causes their demise,” she said.

Perhaps her most heartbreaking loss this year, a lactating female.

“It wasn’t just the loss of the female, it was also the loss of probably two pups. Because now the two pups are waiting for their mother to come back, the mother is never going to come back. So three lives were lost in that one incident.”

Rosemarie says the solution to the problem is simple.

“Stop using the lanternfly tape. Because there are now several other remedies that they can use. There’re also other kinds of traps that’s not going to harm birds and bats. But if you do have to use them, the suggestion is to wrap them in some kind of hardware cloth, so that the insects could still get caught in there, but the actual bats, the birds, will not be able to get caught on that.”

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