Ontario woman heartbroken after TrapStik wasp trap kills 7 birds

An Ontario woman says a product she purchased to kill wasps ended up trapping and killing seven small birds instead.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

An Ontario woman says she is upset that this product, meant to trap wasps, caught birds instead. (Jessie Wall)

An Ontario woman says she and her family are heartbroken after a product she purchased to kill wasps ended up trapping and killing seven small birds instead. 

Jessie Wall, from Waterloo, Ont., said she came across TrapStik, a product sold by a U.S.-based company called Rescue Pest Control Products, for wasps while grocery shopping at Loblaw's Real Canadian Superstore and decided to give it a try to get rid of wasps that have been plaguing her neighbourhood. 

Over a span of five days, the TrapStik caught seven chickadees, all of which died. 

Wall said it was her son who discovered the dead birds and alerted her husband. 

"They told me they were screaming and pecking at each other and pecking at him and they were really, really adhered to that trap, their wings, everything," she said. "They were on all sides, just completely splayed out, it was quite horrific.

"They tried to pull them off, wiggle them off, but there was just no way." 

Jessie Wall said when she bought a TrapStik, she didn't think it was strong enough to catch a bird, let alone a group of them. (Jessie Wall)

Wall said she followed the instructions on the box and placed the trap on an eavestrough, which is what the company recommends. 

"I didn't really think it was strong enough to hold a bird, let a lone a group of birds," she said. "This is heartbreaking for us."

On the Home Depot website, while some customers have rated the product highly for doing its job and killing wasps, several other posters said the TrapStik caught birds. 

"I [looked] out and there were two birds stuck to this trap," read one review. "I had to go pull these poor little birds carefully off of this sticky glue it was [awful]." 

Loblaws Real Canadian Superstore has decided to pull the product from its shelves after being alerted that it trapped and killed seven chickadees. (Facebook/Phoenix Pike)

Another review read, "killed more chickadees than wasps."

'It will catch whatever lands on it'

The company's automated phone line lists instructions on using the product. 

"With any sticky trap there is the rare but possible risk of an unintended catch, such as a bird," it says. "To avoid this, we recommend you not hang this trap in a tree or other natural setting." 

Wall disagrees that the incident is rare. She said if she were to hang it again, more birds would get caught. 

In an instructional video for the product, an entomologist affiliated with TrapStik does hang the product in a tree but only because a wasp's nest is located there.

"This is the only time you would want to do that," Neil Michaelson says, adding that it's important "to be mindful of what other animals are flying in the vicinity because it is a TrapStik and will catch whatever lands on it."

'An upsetting and traumatizing sight'

Stephanie Cates, director of marketing at Rescue Pest Control Products, said that in the five years since the product was introduced in the U.S., more than a million TrapStiks have been sold and the company has only been alerted to birds being caught around a dozen times. 

"While rare, we acknowledge that this is an upsetting and traumatizing sight for anyone to see," she told CBC News. "As with any sticky trap used outdoors, there is a risk of catching a bird, a beneficial insect or any other creature that flies and comes into contact with this trap."

Jessie Wall says she made a mistake by using the TrapStik and wants to see it taken off shelves. (CBC)

According to the company's website, the product is sold across Ontario at various retailers including Home Depot, Real Canadian Superstores, Sheridan Nurseries and other privately owned retailers in the province and across Canada.

Canadian Tire says it does not carry the product. 

Loblaw pulls traps from stores

"I made a big mistake, I want other people to learn form my mistake," said Wall. "I'd like to see it taken off the shelves but that's not my decision. That is a corporate decision for the retailer ... I just want people to be aware."

In a statement sent to CBC Toronto, Loblaw public relations said Wall's experience with the product was the first time the retailer learned of concerns with the product, but said the grocery chain is pulling TrapStik from its stores. 

"While we are aware that other Canadian retailers carry this item, we have made the proactive decision to remove the product from our shelves," the statement reads. "We are working on issuing this notification to our stores and will be able to accept any returns with a receipt for a full refund."

With files from Ali Chiasson