Changes to regulations regarding the use of rodenticides are to change from April 1.
Farmers and other users of rodenticides will have to show a formally-approved certificate demonstrating proof of competence in the use of the poison before being allowed to purchase.
The changes will come into play from April 1 and products will appear with legally binding stewardship conditions labels.
Except as a justifiable last resort, the UK rodenticide stewardship regime rules out long-term rodenticide baiting around the outside of farm buildings.
There is substantial evidence of rodenticide contamination in UK wildlife due to non-target species such as field mice and voles feeding from fixed bait stations, according to chairman of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), Dr Alan Buckle.
He says: “Some of the most highly contaminated birds of prey – barn owls and kestrels, for example – feed almost exclusively on wild small mammals, not rats. The availability of tamper-resistant bait boxes can give a false impression it is acceptable for rodenticide baits to be put out for extended periods or even permanently.
“The bait stations are not the problem, so much as what they contain. Indeed, a good reason for established baiting points is to overcome a natural aversion in rats to new objects in their territory.”
A planned control strategy based on the regime’s code of best practice allows non-toxic material in fixed bait boxes as an early warning system for new rat activity.
To be effective, Dr Buckle points out this demands regular inspection. If non-toxic bait is being taken and an inspection for droppings rules out mice or other non-targets, he says it can be replaced temporarily with rodenticide bait, in conjunction with chemical-free methods such as trapping, terriers and nocturnal shooting.
Guidelines for farmers
Go to www.ahd.org.uk/projects/RodentControlHub.aspx.