Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning of Wildlife09/12/2006 00:00:00
What should you do if you discover a possible poisoning incident?
In 1991 the government and Pesticides Safety Directorate launched the Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning in association with its Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS).
The Campaign aims to protect some of Britain’s rarest birds of prey and wildlife from pesticide poisoning.
Certain animal species need to be controlled to protect other animals, livestock, crops, and even buildings. Animal species most commonly seen as pests are rodents (especially rats), moles, rabbits and foxes.
By law all bird species are protected. However, some species can be killed under a general licence at any time. Birds included in this licence, such as wood pigeon and crow, can only be killed for a limited number of reasons, e.g. to conserve other wild birds; to prevent serious damage or disease to agricultural crops, livestock or fisheries; or to protect public health.
There are many forms of legal pest control, such as trapping, shooting or using poisoning. Pesticides such as rat poison are legal – provided they are used in the correct way and for the intended species.
The Campaign recognises that those working on the land must be able to control those species of birds and mammals, which can cause damage to both agriculture and to game rearing. Legal methods of pest control must be humane, selective and safe.
It is important not to interfere with legal pest control methods if seen in the countryside as tampering with them could encourage people to resort to illegal methods, which are far more dangerous.
Pesticides and the law
The Protection of Animal Act 1911 makes it an offence to use poison against any mammals or birds with the exception, in limited circumstances, of rats, mice, moles and (in some countries) grey squirrels.
Deliberate abuse of pesticides, as well as careless use, handling or storage (misuse) is illegal.
In 2006, 390 suspected poisoning cases were investigated by the Campaign, 67 of those were identified as deliberate abuse of pesticides and 22 were the result of misuse.
Most pesticide users are conscientious and law abiding, however, there is a persistent minority who still use pesticides illegally. Illegal poisoning is cruel, dangerous and damaging to the environment.
Victims of poisoning
Poisoned meat/egg baits are usually intended to kill wild birds and animals such as foxes, badgers, crows and magpies.
Victims of poisoning often die a slow and agonising death. In many cases this takes place unseen, and the carcases then pose a continued threat to other animals.
Secondary poisoning occurs when the carcases of species that have been poisoned are left out in the open and become available for scavenging species such as foxes and birds of prey, as well as domestic cats and dogs.
What should you look for?
If you find dead animals or birds in the countryside it does not mean they have been poisoned. Animals die for a number of reasons – including being preyed upon and disease.
Poisoning can be suspected if baited carcases are found, where several dead birds or animals occur together, or if apparently healthy creatures seem to have died suddenly. Also watch for chickens’ eggs in unusual places, perhaps with a mark on them. They may have been injected with a poison.