Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rat Poison Threatens UK’s Hedgehog Population

I am always astonished at how often normally environmentally aware people will resort to using rat poison around their homes when faced with a rodent problem. However, no matter the circumstances, using rat poison is always a bad idea. It can get into the food chain so easily. Where I live, there are feral cats, eagles, hawks and other wildlife that feed on rodents and never mind neighborhood cats and dogs... and my own. And I’d never even considered the fact that mice killed by poison might be ingested by slugs and insects who would then be eaten by songbirds.

An article in today’s Telegraph really underlines the importance of not using rat poison at any time:
New research showed the presence of anticoagulants -- chemicals used to kill rodents by stopping the blood clotting -- in “significant levels” in hedgehog corpses. This could have an impact on their survival, breeding success and mobility, the charity fears.
We don’t have hedgehogs where I live. But this connection between hedgehog deaths and rat poison makes it very clear that this is not suitable stuff to use in your home:

Dr Claire Dowding, from the University of Bristol, who carried out the research, said: “The number of hedgehogs affected is quite worrying. It's difficult to tell exactly how these animals are exposed to the chemicals.

“They may be eating them directly, scavenging on dead rodents that have been killed by the poison or eating their favourite diet of slugs and snails that have fed on the poison bait.”

I do understand why people use poison. Faced with a rodent problem, people can feel desperate and poison is invisible. It’s possible to just put it out and then not think about it again. But resist the urge. There are other things you can do: traps, cats and changing the way you manage certain parts of your life so that pests are discouraged can really help solve the problem. But don’t use poison. It’s horrible stuff that kills indiscriminately. Other animals and even children can easily be exposed. In the greener world we’re all trying to build, it’s the very last thing that we need.

The Telegraph piece is here.

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