Yes, you read that right. The manager of a Wal-Mart store in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, (along with an exterminator) was charged with cruelty to animals for setting traps for birds who fly into the store and allegedly failing to checking the traps for days on end, causing birds to die of dehydration. The apparently kick-ass Atlantic City SPCA filed the charges after three dead birds were found—along with 10 live ones—in a cage trap that apparently hadn’t been checked for nearly a week. In a move that would be funny if it weren’t so tragically stupid, the traps were equipped with water bottles—which wild birds don’t know how to use.
As the Atlantic City SPCA pointed out, there are plenty of nonlethal ways to deal with birds who fly into big-box stores, including installing high-power fans over doors, installing “air doors”—which are energy-efficient and bird-friendly—and setting live traps and actually checking them from time to time. One of our local Home Depot stores here in Norfolk, Virginia, (at PETA’s suggestion) plays a recording of frightened bird calls in the garden center as a warning to birds to stay away—and, for the most part, they do.
From time to time, PETA also gets reports of big-box stores that use glue traps to trap birds who wander in (in addition to selling the traps, as Lowe’s does). If you ever see birds flying around inside a store, ask to speak to the manager and find out what methods the store uses to remove and deter birds. If you suspect cruelty, alert your local humane society or animal control, or call PETA.
Written by Alisa Mullins