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Gardeners' World - - Contents -

Rat con­trols and walk­ing the High Line

The ad­vice you of­fered on how to con­trol rats in com­post heaps ( Have Your Say April, July 2017) us­ing poi­son was of lit­tle use to readers. It’s too easy for un­trained users to poi­son non-tar­get an­i­mals and birds, un­less they fol­low the prod­uct in­struc­tions to the let­ter. Im­proper use of an­ti­co­ag­u­lant ro­den­ti­cides has be­come a very se­ri­ous is­sue for our wildlife. A 2011 re­port [from the Cen­tre for Ecol­ogy and Hy­drol­ogy] re­ported that 84 per cent of barn owls were found to have ro­den­ti­cide residues in them. More­over, large parts of the coun­try now have pop­u­la­tions of rats that can­not be con­trolled by stan­dard baits avail­able to the public, due to re­sis­tance. Un­sus­pect­ing gar­den­ers could well run into prob­lems try­ing to get con­trol with bait that is en­dan­ger­ing wildlife. You also printed a let­ter rec­om­mend­ing the use of pep­per pow­ders. May we point out that un­der the Con­trol of Pes­ti­cides Reg­u­la­tions (1986) pep­per pow­ders are not ‘Ap­proved for Use’ in this way by the Govern­ment. There is much gar­den­ers can do to re­duce the risk of rats mov­ing into gar­dens, sheds, garages and homes as win­ter comes. This in­cludes tak­ing care not to have food avail­able to them af­ter dark, from bird feed­ers or chicken coops. All holes in build­ings should be blocked to pre­vent en­try – crushed chicken wire works well. If con­trol is re­quired, sim­ple rat traps can be ef­fec­tive with­out the risk of poi­son­ing the lo­cal wildlife. Fi­nally, if you bring in a pro­fes­sional pest con­troller, make sure that they are prop­erly cer­tifi­cated and in­sured. Iain Turner, Di­rec­tor, Na­tional Pest Tech­ni­cians As­so­ci­a­tion

We say We ac­cept we could have of­fered a stronger note of cau­tion on the use of ro­den­ti­cides and re­it­er­ated that in­struc­tions must be fol­lowed to the let­ter. How­ever, re­gard­ing the use of pep­per pow­ders as a de­ter­rent, it is our un­der­stand­ing that only prod­ucts mar­keted as such re­quire govern­ment ap­proval; there­fore, home­made pep­per mixes are not sub­ject to the 1986 pes­ti­cide reg­u­la­tions to which you re­fer.

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