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New Call for Responsible Rodent Control

by 5m Editor
7 October 2010, at 8:41am

UK - The latest wildlife monitoring figures have prompted a new call for responsible rodent control.

New data from the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) on rodenticide residue levels have prompted Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use chairman Dr Alan Buckle to urge farmers, game-keepers and rural pest controllers to renew their efforts in the proper use of rodent control products by following rigorously the seven-point CRRU code.

According to Dr Buckle the PBMS, which is run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) at Lancaster, is one of the UK's most important initiatives to assess the health of our wildlife and the wider rural environment. It measures residues of chemicals, including anticoagulant rodenticides, in a range of iconic species such as the barn owl, red kite and kestrel. The scheme is co-funded by CRRU, CEH, the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE). The latest PBMS report, published this week, shows that more birds carry rodenticide residues than previously thought.

Dr Buckle said: "This is because new and much more sensitive methods of analysis are now being used. For example, about 40 per cent of barn owls were found to carry rodenticide residues by the previous method, and we now know the true figure is closer to 80 per cent. This new information does not necessarily increase our concern because we have always been concerned and because the higher number of birds found to be contaminated is mainly because much lower residues can now be detected. These low residues are the least likely to have any biological effect. However, the new figures show that a very high proportion of some of our important birds of prey are exposed to rodenticides."

In practice, wildlife exposure to rodenticides is largely unnecessary, Dr Buckle explains, if simple rules are followed when applying them in rural areas. Moreover, he says the timing of the new PBMS data is particularly sensitive because the future availability of modern rodenticides is being considered currently by the European Parliament under its Biocidal Products Regulation, which will be finalised next year.

When the new regulation is in force, Dr Buckle suggests that it could have a significant impact on the availability and use of rodenticide products.

Dr Buckle explained: "If we want to avoid having unworkable restrictions imposed on us by the EU, we have to get a grip on the situation ourselves. Farmers, game-keepers and rural pest controllers share a major responsibility to use rodenticides responsibly and effectively, with no exceptions and no excuses. If this does not happen, we will find ourselves heavily restricted in what we can do, possibly to the detriment of effective rodent control."

To help farmers and other rural users, CRRU offers a seven-point code for responsible and effective rodent control, which can be found online by clicking here.

The PBMS report can be found by clicking here.