Agricultural suppliers should be aware of new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) restrictions on permanent rodenticide baiting by farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers. The new rules have legal backing.

Permanent rodenticide baiting is only approved in cases where there is a high potential for reinvasion, and when all alternatives have been considered. The practice is banned as a “just in case” preventative measure” if there are no signs of rats or if there is no threat of reinvasion. If permanent baiting is justified, some baits containing bromadiolone or Difenacoum – although not all – are allowed. Rodenticides that contain the other three second-generation anticoagulants are prohibited.

Product labels will have new statements to indicate whether they are prohibited or allowed for permanent baiting. For the latter, the key label phrase is “Permanent baiting is strictly limited to sites with high potential for reinvasion when other methods of control have proven insufficient.” Rodenticide users must check product labels very carefully before using the products.

The new restrictions address wildlife contamination through small mammals, such as field mice and voles, eating the rodenticide at bait stations and then falling prey to predatory birds and mammals. Small birds, which can be preyed on in flight by peregrines and sparrowhawks, may also eat rodenticides, explaining anticoagulant residues in birds of prey. Reducing residues in wildlife is a key aim of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU).

A detailed booklet entitled CRRU Guidance: Permanent Baiting, is available from www.thinkwildlife.org/download.