The Barn Owl Trust has launched a petition to regulate second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide use, stating that the number of barn owl nests varied between 45 and 95 per cent lower than normal in 2013, and that rat poisons play a part in that alongside habitat loss and climate change. The petition calls for SGARs to be regulated for ‘last resort’ use only, a ban on preventative and permanent baiting, and to include accurate information on all SGAR products.
The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use supports the petition’s objectives for clearer labeling and that permanent outdoor baiting should not be a routine pest control practice, but rejected the implication that rodenticide use has had a major impact on barn owl populations. In a study of over 1,000 UK barn owls, 50 per cent were found to have been killed in road traffic accidents, while only two per cent has been killed by ingesting fatal doses of rodenticides, and the Barn Owl Conservation Network has estimated there to be around 9,000 pairs of breeding barn owls all over the country, up from 4,000 pairs recorded during a three-year study from 1995 to 1997 done by the Hawk and Owl Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology. However, 2013 was a bad breeding year for barn owls thanks to the cold, wet weather, which could help explain the 45-95 per cent reduction in nest activity last year.