Have your say
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.