Rat poison raises fears for wildlife on Warwick Racecourse - The Leamington Observer

Rat poison raises fears for wildlife on Warwick Racecourse

Leamington Editorial 28th Apr, 2021   0

FEARS have been raised for wildlife on Warwick Racecourse after poison has been put down to tackle a rat problem.

Active rodent burrows in the middle of the racecourse are being treated by pest control, in addition to the stables and yard on the site.

Warwick District Council (WDC) says the areas, which includes land where wild birds are nesting, has become an active feeding ground for rats, and pest control has been deployed to tackle the problem. However, the council has assured active burrows will be filled so the control methods used will not pose any threat to nesting birds which are outside of the area being treated.

The area has been taped off with hazard tape and visitors are being told to ensure they or their pets do not enter the area for 48 hours from today (Wednesday) to Friday (April 30).

But Linda Bromley, spokeswoman for the The Friends of St Mary’s Lands, which includes the racecourse, fears the toxic substance could be a danger to rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, and other small mammals.

She says the move is at odds with the council’s pledge to protect ground-nesting birds near the taped off area.

She told the Observer: “Warwick District Council applaud themselves on their ecological scruples in erecting fencing to protect nesting birds on St Mary’s Lands. Yet, on the other hand, they are allowing an extremely toxic substance to be placed very near the nesting site with a notice marked by a skull and crossbones which states ‘Very toxic gases. Danger to life’.

“As well as rabbits and moles, other small mammals such as hedgehogs, voles and field mice will be at risk and predators such as hawks could ingest the poisoned carcasses. Ironically, the ground nesting birds that WDC purport to protect will also be vulnerable. They are already exposed to the rats eating eggs and chicks. It is entirely possible that this poison could kill foxes whose natural behaviour is to dig the ground and it is now their breeding season. The warning notice also includes danger to domestic animals and dog walkers in particular should beware.

“Have WDC shot themselves in the foot by feeding the nesting birds and thereby attracting rats? The WDC rat officer advises feeding birds will always attract rats and now there appears to be a serious problem. It is never wise to interfere with the balance of nature, even with good intentions.

“It would appear that Warwick District Council have contracted this work on behalf of the racecourse who are experiencing problems with rats but this is a public open space currently being enjoyed by hundreds of people on a daily basis. Isn’t the safety of people, dogs and the wonderful wildlife on St Mary’s Lands more important? This is irresponsible and an ecological disaster waiting to happen.”

She added more humane methods could be used to control the rat problem, including to avoid scattering bird seed and emptying bins more regularly.


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