A tawny owl had to be put down after it became stuck in a glue trap bought off the internet.

The RSPCA is now urging the public to report sellers of what it describes as 'inhumane and indiscriminate traps' which can kill or severely injure small animals.

The traps are legal but according to industry codes of practice, only trained operators should use them, and retailers should not be offering them for sale to the general public.

Also known as 'glue boards' or 'sticky boards' the traps consist of a sheet of plastic, cardboard or wood coated with non-drying adhesive.

A Wareham resident bought one of the traps from the internet, to try to solve a rat problem. But the RSPCA said she was distraught to find a panicked tawny owl stuck fast in it.

After attempting to free the wild bird, she called the RSPCA for help. An officer from the animal charity drove the stricken owl to the RSPCA’s West Hatch wildlife centre for treatment, but sadly, due to the extensive damage he’d suffered from being trapped, vets felt the kindest option for the distressed bird put him to sleep.

RSPCA animal collection officer Sue Brooks said: “The poor tawny owl didn’t have a chance.

“As this sad incident demonstrates, these inhumane devices don’t discriminate between species and it’s not just wild birds that get caught. I’ve even heard of snakes and kittens getting stuck to them.

“Sadly, many animals, especially birds, have to be euthanised because the damage done by a glue trap is just too great. It is not a humane trap for any animal as they are not killed outright and they undergo prolonged periods of distress and suffering.

“We feel that the public should be made aware of the risk these horrific devices pose to animals and particularly non-target species such as birds and bats.”

The charity has been running a 'wild animals and glue traps' project for two years, and is campaigning for the traps to only be used by trained professionals.

They are asking anyone who sees glue traps on sale to the general public to get in contact at wildlife@rspca.org.uk with:

Name and address of the store where the traps are being sold (include postcode where possible).

The manager or owner of the store concerned (if known) and the address if different to above.

The date the traps were seen on sale.

The RSPCA will then write to the retailer and ask them to consider stopping the sale of glue traps at their store, remove all glue traps from their stock and not to re-stock them in the future – to prevent the problem reoccurring.