Are the raptor poisoners in Scotland changing their bait? Maybe they are, according to an article published in the Guardian on Wednesday:
Rat poisons are posing a significant threat to wild animals because they are being misused or even deliberately abused to target birds of prey, wildlife experts fear.
Figures published on Wednesday on wildlife poisoning in Scotland identify legally available rodenticides as the cause of death of 15 birds of prey, including nine red kites and three sparrowhawks, and six mammals, including two dogs and a cat.
At least one case, where six red kite chicks were killed by extremely high levels of rat poison, has been identified as “suspicious” by the Scottish government’s testing laboratory. Several chicks were seen bleeding from their beaks before death.
The laboratory, Science and advice for Scottish agriculture (SASA), also said that it had detected rodenticide traces in 38% of the 214 dead animal livers it tested last year, with 32 buzzards, 17 red kites and 10 sparrowhawks testing positive. Kites and buzzards are scavengers, so will prey on dead or poisoned rats, but SASA believes its data suggests that rodenticides are now extremely widespread in the foodchain.
One of the chemicals found repeatedly by SASA is only licensed for indoor use [Brodifacoum]. Mike Taylor, head of pesticides and wildlife at SASA, said: “We’ve certainly got evidence of widespread exposure and it’s of concern, but it’s very difficult to enforce because it’s very difficult to collect dead or dying rats [to study].”
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association is reported as saying he had never been aware of rodenticides being used to deliberately target birds of prey.
To read the full article in the Guardian, including quotes from the National Farmers Union Scotland and the RSPB, click here.
To download the advisory leaflet, ‘Rat Poison and the Threat to Wildlife’, click here.