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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 00:00

Dublin Red Kites Project Update and Rodenticide Awareness

Red kite in flight, Fingal Co. Dublin Red kite in flight, Fingal Co. Dublin (c) Brendan Marnell

The successful Dublin red kite project launched in 2011, with support from National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, The Welsh Kite Trust, Fingal LEADER Partnership, Fingal County Council and a suite of volunteers; the Golden Eagle Trust reports that there were three pairs of young kites established in the summer of 2012 in North County Dublin. However, none of these kites successfully nested.

The kites are still too young to breed, but showed signs of pairing up this year and hopefully 2013 will see successful breeding in Dublin. The Golden Eagle Trust would like to express their considerable thanks to all the landowners and the public for the phenomenal support shown for the re-introduction project in Fingal and is asking for everybody to mindful of wildlife when using rodenticides at this time of year.

Following the deaths of nine (9) red kites between November 2011 and January 2012 in Fingal, Co. Dublin all rodenticide users are being urged to consider the local wildlife population and help protect the red kites this autumn and winter.

Rat populations need to be controlled in a variety of situations in both urban and rural areas, particularly around farm buildings, landfills and other sites where an artificial food source is available. The most commonly used method is the laying of baits containing poisons, known as rodenticides. However, these products are also toxic to other wildlife, domestic livestock and pets.

Six of the dead kites were confirmed at post-mortem analysis to contain the rodenticide, brodifacoum. This is a second generation anti-coagulant (SGAR) rat poison, which causes internal bleeding. It is widely recognised that rodenticides can kill non-target species.

At this time of year rats may begin to move, as fields are cut for silage and crops are harvested. These areas therefore often attract natural rat predatory and scavenging raptors including barn owls, long-eared owls, kestrels, buzzards and red kites.

Dr Marc Ruddock, project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust said "There is no doubt in my mind that these poisoning cases are just tragic accidents but by making informed choices about pest control, we will be able to reduce rat numbers effectively as well as preventing unnecessary damage to our local wildlife". Dr Ruddock continued "With advice from RSPB in Scotland and the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Usage (CRRU) we have drafted a leaflet offering best practice advice and urge everyone to think about wildlife (and particularly the red kites) before using rodenticides".

The public, landowners and professional pest controllers are urged to firstly prevent rat infestations by cleaning up or barricading areas which attract rats and secondly to utilise other legal forms of control, such as trapping or shooting, before using rodenticides. If rodenticides are being used it is fundamentally important for everybody to closely follow the instructions on the label and not risk exposure of these toxins to our native wildlife.

Best practice rodent eradication strategies record information such as the quantity and location of all baits and require the baits to be regularly inspected. These should not be left in the open or exposed to non-target animals and birds. Dead rodents should be collected and disposed of safely and baits should be removed at the end of the treatment.

The Fingal red kites are typically located in the areas surrounding Lusk, Rush, Donabate, Swords, Balbriggan, Skerries, Rogerstown, Ashbourne, Malahide, Ratoath, Ballyboghil, Oldtown, Dunboyne and Portrane. The public in these areas are therefore urged to be particularly careful with rodenticides and also report sightings of the red kites to the project website at www.goldeneagle.ie or to the local NPWS ranger.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 November 2012 00:18