Friday, 20 February 2015

Rats, Squirrels, Seagulls, "Pests"

Our last post was about Aberystwyth University targeting wildlife - apparently illegally. The inability of humans to coexist with other species is often fought out in this one-sided way. It's the basis of the whole badger persecution issue.

Ceredigion County Council has staff whose responsibilities include killing animals they think of as pests (they sometimes use temporary contractors too). Poisons are used for some species. The Council has no idea how many animals they kill a year (according to an FOI request). For the financial year of 2011-12 the Council spent £168,354 in this area.

Aberystwyth University uses contractors to kill any animals they don't want on their land. They also use poisons, and don't know how many animals they kill (target species or not). For the financial year of 2011-12 the university spent £10,800 on "pest" control.

Even though rat populations grow as a result of humans being wasteful, its the rats that suffer. The environment too, when Ceredigion County Council adds poison to our infrastructure. It's a blinkered attitude to wildlife when there are many humane approaches to managing a wildlife population - all of which are more sustainable in the long term and require just simple changes of (human) behaviour. The chemicals used in rat poison are extremely toxic and typically cause internal haemorrhaging and protracted suffering of any animals who consume them. Poisons cause wider problems for the environment and non-target animals too through either primary or secondary poisoning. A much more appropriate form of action would be to read the Alternatives to Culling document and change our behaviour.

As to rats accessing buildings: the main thing is to block access first - otherwise no matter how many are killed or trapped, they'll just come back. If you can identify how they get in and out you're on to a winner. As with all things, prevention is easier than cure.

Humane traps are widely available, though wellies are great for rescuing mice. Lay the wellies on their sides so they are at the base of a wall (mice run along edges of a room/wall). Usher the mouse in, or just leave it to find its own way. Take welly into garden and leave under bush. Collect later. Easy. If unsure whether mouse is in welly just stick a camera in and take a photo, as here.

Grey squirrels are also victimised by many humans, even though this species has probably done less than 0.005% of the tree damaging that humans do. We cut down our natural forests and are forever getting rid of trees. If it is a reason to get rid of squirrels then we should get rid of logging companies first, or we're being hypocritical.
General useful and informative links

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