Glue traps are available very cheaply at retail outlets and from online sources including specialist suppliers and general sites such as eBay, sometimes accompanied by graphic images of traps in operation (eBay, 2020). However, concerns have been expressed about the humaneness of glue traps for rodents and non-target species, both by animal welfare groups and by individuals petitioning the Scottish Parliament.
Campaigns by animal welfare organisations (such as Humane Society International UK (HSI UK) and RSPCA) have resulted in a number of wholesalers and retailers in the UK withdrawing them from sale but many others continue to sell them. Pest management industry representative bodies such as the British Pest Control Association support the restriction of glue traps so that they can only be purchased and used by trained professionals (PMA, 2017).
These issues were raised in a petition to the Scottish Parliament in 2017. Petition PE01671: Sale and Use of Glue Traps (Scottish Parliament 2017) was considered seven times by the Public Petitions Committee, taking evidence from animal welfare and industry groups, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, and Scottish Government officials. On 26 April 2018, the Cabinet Secretary indicated:
"At present, the preferred option would be to allow the continued use of glue traps but by professional pest controllers only, which would mean their adhering to a code of practice.
Of the three options, we think that that is the one that we could progress in a reasonable period of time, which would be effective and which would not create difficulty if, in the future, we wanted to move to the higher level of control. In that sense, we are ruling out the idea of no further regulation. We think that we need to look at that.
In a sense, the production of a code of practice for general use could be part of that first option and could be put into practice quite quickly. We are back to differing timescales here for Government action, but we think that there are limitations to the approach, if you are talking about a code of practice across the board for the general public. That would be better than nothing, but we do not feel that it would actually take us very far forward.
At the moment, our view is that the option of a total ban would be difficult because there are certain situations—for example, where food is prepared—in which there may not be practical alternatives to what is being used currently. We need to think about that. I would not rule out looking at a ban further down the line, if the actions that we take as a preferred option do not produce the expected results."
On 23 March 2020, the Scottish Government wrote to the Public Petitions Committee that its preference remained to introduce legislation to ban the sale and use of glue traps except by professional pest controllers. In the absence of parliamentary time for primary legislation,
"… we could introduce a code of practice that was explicit to Scotland in the meantime.
As you may be aware, the Scottish Government has now established the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission which will focus on protecting wild and companion animals while also providing scientific and ethical advice to government. On this basis, we suggest that the Scottish Government raises the issue of glue traps with them and seek their input into a code of practice specifically for the use of glue traps in Scotland."
At the Commission's inaugural meeting on 18 March 2020, it was agreed that a SAWC work group would provide an opinion on the use and impact of these forms of wildlife management. The Commission agreed that this might include, but not be restricted to, suggesting future regulations and control such as restricting use to professional pest managers only or others.
The Commission's work group has focused on examination of the welfare issues surrounding the use of glue traps in Scotland, and possible regulatory approaches. It has not considered the detail of any statutory or voluntary code, on the basis that a decision on the status requires to be made first, based on sound evidence of the type that has been sought in this initial exercise. A code that forms part of a statutory licensing regime would inevitably be different from a voluntary code promoted by a self-regulating industry.