Stop poisoning our wildlife
By Ewa Meyer, EcoUpdate Editor
Earlier this year, many of us signed a petition organised by Birdlife Australia demanding that an application by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) to use bromadiolone to control the mouse plague should not be permitted.
Bromadiolone is a highly lethal second-generation poison that can cause death in non-target animals such as native wildlife, farm animals and pets.
Along with farmers who had concerns, we were relieved to hear that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) issued a notice to NSW DPI refusing the application.
The reasons cited were that the ‘APVMA could not be satisfied the use of the product met the statutory criteria, specifically in relation to:
- the environment, including the risks of secondary poisoning to non-target species including birds, fish and reptiles
- residues, including the toxicity of the chemical to people who may eat predatory freshwater fish (such as Murray cod) or reptiles (such as goannas or snakes) harvested from treated areas.’
However around Australia, wildlife species continue to die by ingesting mice and rats that have been poisoned by certain rodenticides.
So Birdlife Australia are asking for our help again. Bunnings and other hardware stores continue to sell second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides (sgar) when other less deadly poisons are available.
Second generation baits are those which stay in a rodent’s body for a long time before they die. This means that animals which hunt live prey such as owls, raptors, kookaburras and reptiles as well as carnivorous mammals, including pets, can get poisoned if they eat the rodent that is dying slowly and is still mobile.
First generation anti-coagulant rodenticides (fgar), such as warfarin, break down more quickly and therefore there is a much smaller risk to native animals and pets.
The EU, USA and Canada have banned the sale of certain exposed poisons to the general public. But in Australia, second generation poisons are readily available on the shelf at Bunnings and even in some supermarkets. People are buying them not knowing the consequences of their actions. If they did, many would gladly change how they deal with unwanted visitors.
How You Can Help
From your armchair
- Support Birdlife Australia in this campaign by writing to Bunnings and other stockists and politely ask them to STOP stocking second generation rodenticides such as Talon, Fast Action RatSak and The Big Cheese Fast Action.
- Sign and share the Act for Birds petition
- Write to Port Stephens Council and ask them what they are doing to reduce the use of second generation poisons? Let’s do what Margaret River in WA did – declared itself an ‘Owl Friendly’ Shire, allowing the use of first generation baits only.
- Write to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) asking them to prohibit the sale of widely available second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides to the public. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign the petition on the Birdlife webpage.
- Learn about bird-friendly rodent control – download this helpful brochure developed by BirdLife Western Australia.
- Read about the Rodenticide Action Group and let us know if you’d like to start a similar group in Port Stephens. These volunteers are seeking to stop rodenticide poisoning to owls and other wildlife in their area.
- Help us get the message out to the community. Please share these or similar words on your social media platforms and link to our webpage: ‘Animals die by ingesting mice & rats poisoned by rodenticides that anyone can buy. Please help – this is what you can do.‘
Be Proactive – spread the word and Act Now!
- Ask Bunnings to stop selling poisons that kill wildlife. Make sure Bunnings knows this is something their customers want them to do by calling your local store manager.
- Keep rodents out of your house by checking that all possible points of entry are tightly sealed.
- Keep food stored away and dispose of your rubbish daily.
- Avoid feeding wildlife around your house or on your deck.
- Don’t leave pet food outside the door.
- Keep your compost heap away from the house
- Use environmentally-friendly pest control. Don’t evict that carpet python or tree snake from your roof space or shed – they eat your rats and mice.
- Remember – nature is in balance until humans interfere – let natural predators do their job. Bio-control NOT pest control!
- Instead of having your annual pest controller come around and indiscriminately target everything, only use bait when absolutely needed or use humane trapping methods.
- If you absolutely have to, then buy only first generation poisons and store them out of the way. Look for active ingredients like warfarin (ratsak double-strength) and coumatetralyl (racumin) or natural constituents like sodium chloride (ratsak natural).
- Don’t forget – you will also be protecting your dog or cat if you follow these guidelines!
- Support volunteers who look after sick and injured wildlife in our local community. Join or donate to Wildlife in Need of Care.
- Download and print your Owl Friendly Garden poster and place it in your front window or fence to show that your garden is poison free.
Useful references and links
- Owl Friendly Rodent Control
- Birdlife Australia – How can you help owls and other birds of prey?
- Lohr, M.T (2018) Anticoagulant rodenticide exposure in an Australian predatory bird increases with proximity to developed habitat. Science of the Total Environment 643: 134-144.
- Welfare of target and non-target animals in planning vertebrate control programs
- Society for the Preservation of Raptors Inc. 2019, Raptor Fact Sheet: Eliminate Rats and Mice, Not Wildlife!
- ABC – Concerns grow over owls eating rodents full of deadly household rat poison
- Native owls, lizards dying after eating mice and rats poisoned with Ratsak
- Masked owl flies again as rodent-poison message spreads