Fake spiderwebs a real danger for wildlife at Halloween

Experts are urging people to make Halloween safer for wildlife by taking down fake spiderwebs strung on bushes and trees outdoors.

The decoration is sticky and can entangle and trap birds.

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“This is an indoor decoration never designed to be used outdoors,” said Ann Nightingale, board member of the Rocky Point Bird Observatory.

Nightingale said every year, there are reports of birds, from hummingbirds to owls, inadvertently trapped in the material. “Even if the bird is not injured when it becomes trapped, they sometimes sustain injuries when people try to free them.”

Saanich resident Paula Rowlands became aware of the problem after a Facebook friend posted a video of a rescue from a fake spiderweb. “Until I saw the video, I never realized how dangerous the substance can be for birds,” she said.

On her daily five-kilometre run, she saw three places where fake spiderwebs were strung, and stopped at each to see if any birds were trapped.

Nightingale said anyone who comes upon a trapped bird should pull on the webbing — not the bird — to free it, since pulling on the bird can dislocate claws or legs.

She advises those afraid of hurting the bird to cut the webbing around it and take the whole package to the SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin.

Those unable to drive that far can take it to the Central Victoria Veterinary Clinic, located at 760 Roderick St.

“Put the bird in a box or paper bag to reduce stress and trauma to the bird,” said Nightingale.

Rowlands’ two children now go with her on walks to check for trapped birds in the sites where neighbours have the decoration strung.

“It’s really dangerous and I think we should do something about it,” said 11-year-old Charlotte. “People should try to put it more on the inside of windows.”

Her nine-year-old sister agrees.

“At first I didn’t really mind that it was just a Halloween decoration, but it’s actually dangerous for animals,” said Madeleine. “I’ve heard of hummingbirds, quails and bees getting all tangled in it.”

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