A legal argument could be made that selling insect glue traps in some Bunnings stores could be an offence, animal welfare lawyers say.
The Canberra-based Animal Defenders Office (ADO) has researched the legality of glue traps across Australia and said that as far as Victoria is concerned the law is a “bit grey”.
The lawyer in charge of the non-profit centre, volunteer Tara Ward, said she had considered the indoor pest glue trap, “The Buzz Indoor Pest Glue Trap”, sold by hardware retailer Bunnings.
Ms Ward said glue traps for catching insects could be sold in Victoria, provided they were designed to prevent the capture of a vertebrate animal.
However, if the trap had been shown to catch an animal, it could be considered an offence.
“Provided they are able to trap a vertebrate and there is evidence to show they are doing so, then in our view an argument could well be made that they are breaking the law,” Ms Ward said.
“IIt would probably be an offense to sell this device.
Ninety thousand people have signed a petition calling on Bunnings to stop selling the glue traps, which are usually sold as small strips of adhesive paper to trap insects.
Wild Animals Australia said there were no known cases of vertebrates being caught in insect traps in Victoria.
But the traps had inadvertently caught pets and native animals between states, causing them pain and, in some cases, death, whether left indoors or outdoors.
The organization’s Cat Coake called for a ban on “cruel” traps.
“In light of this new legal notice, Bunnings must immediately remove these horrible glue traps from their shelves,” she said.
The ADO’s Ms Ward said any evidence of the traps capturing animals in Victoria should be presented to animal welfare regulators in the state.
“It would require an enforcement agency that would be interested in testing the limits of the law and developing the law and also one that, of course, would be funded to undertake such a prosecution,” she said.
“There would be no guarantee of success, but this is something where the law has to be tested.
“Provided there is evidence, on the face of it, there is no reason why a prosecution cannot proceed.”
Bunnings assessed its sticky trap products to ensure they were compliant with the law when the legislation was last updated in Victoria in 2019.
The retailer had no evidence to suggest its “Buzz Indoor Pest Glue Trap” was capable of trapping an animal.
“We offer a range of insect control products, which includes smaller, sticky insect traps and non-sticky insect traps, such as the Yates Indoor Fly Trap, Envirosafe Fly Trap or Fly Trap Gepro Mile Bottle,” Bunnings general merchandise manager Adrian Pearce said.
“Most of the sticky insect traps we offer are designed for indoor use only, and the product packaging clearly reflects this.”
The retailer said it continues to work with suppliers and regulators to ensure it is knowledgeable about the products.
“We are confident that the products we sell in this category comply with current legislation in Victoria when used for their intended purpose,” Mr Pearce said.
It was understood that the retailer was working with suppliers to include additional product packaging information before the end of the year.