Use Rodenticides With Care
A new industry-backed campaign on restricting the use of rodenticides has received praise from the RSPB and English Nature.
The launch of an industry-backed campaign to promote responsible use of rat poison has been hailed as a "welcome initiative to protect birds of prey" by English Nature, the Government’s wildlife advisers, and the RSPB, Europe’s largest wildlife conservation charity.
Farmers and those working in rural areas are being encouraged to use rodenticides responsibly to minimise the risk of accidentally poisoning birds of prey, including the red kite, barn owl and kestrel.
The Campaign for the Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) advocates monitoring bait stations, disposing of rodent corpses quickly and removing bait at the end of the treatment.
Red kites, barn owls, kestrels and buzzards sit at the top of the food chain and these birds of prey are vulnerable to building up fatal doses of toxins. Red kites are particularly vulnerable as they mainly scavenge carcasses, increasing the poisoning risk.
The type of rat poison and the methods landowners, farmers and pest controllers use to control rodents can make the difference between life and death for some of our most spectacular birds of prey. Smallholders are encouraged to consider trapping to remove small infestations before resorting to poisons. If the local rat population is not resistant to first-generation rodenticides, such as warfarin, then that is also a better option as there is less chance that birds of prey will be affected.
Controlling and preventing infestations of rats and mice is an important job on farms and other businesses in our working countryside. Rats especially can do immense damage to property and spread disease and as they are capable of reproducing at only eight weeks of age, a rat infestation must not be ignored.
Rat poison must be kept away from any non-target animals though, for as English Nature and the RSPB point out, rodenticides are poisonous to other creatures that may digest it.
Rodenticide users should always:
- Have a planned approach
- Record quantity of bait used and where it is placed
- Use enough baiting points
- Collect and dispose of rodent bodies
- Leave bait exposed to non-target animals and birds
- Fail to inspect bait regularly
- Leave bait at the end of the treatment
Between 1998-2005 around 40 incidents were reported involving birds of prey, especially red kites and buzzards, where it is likely that rodenticides were the cause of death. Other surveys have found around 70 per cent of red kites and kestrels, and 40 per cent of ban owls, with detectable levels of rodenticide residues. Although there is no actual survey of pets having been poisoned by rat bait, many veterinary surgeries have experienced pet fatalities through rodenticide poisoning.
Attack Pest Control are specialists in the control of rogue rat and mouse populations and can provide you with information and advice on controlling your rodent pest problem.