Open letter to gamekeepers who use professional rodenticides.

Recent high-profile incidents of raptor poisonings have brought the gamekeeping sector’s use of rodenticides under increased scrutiny. Clearly, these incidents damage gamekeeping’s good name for managing and protecting the countryside, and jeopardise the continued use of rodenticides by gamekeepers.

This sector’s dedication to rodenticide training and employing responsible practices is highly valued by Think Wildlife, writes Alan Buckle, chairman of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use. The responsible majority will have good reason to feel disappointed, and angered, by the small minority who are either intentionally or mistakenly breaking the law.

To avoid misunderstandings, we urge all trained individuals to continually familiarise themselves with the rodenticide stewardship rules (see below) and always follow best practice (

In particular, this includes following the directions on product labels. It is essential to remember that not all rodenticides can be used in all situations.

Directions For Use’ on every product label define the allowed uses. Anything else is illegal. Indeed, misreading or ignoring directions for use on product labels are high probability causes of rodenticide contamination of non-target wildlife, including birds of prey, small mammals and even invertebrates such as slugs. Clearly, this applies equally to farmers and pest controllers, whom we are reminding likewise.

What different label statements mean

It is a legal requirement for manufacturers to include HSE-approved text on rodenticide product labels. The most commonly misunderstood uses involve products applied outdoors, both around buildings and in the open countryside, and when bait is applied directly into burrows. Key label phrases are:

1) ‘Outdoors – around buildings’: allows bait to be deployed ONLY to treat an infestation of a building. The ‘outdoors’ part means that baits can be put down outside the building to control an infestation within, provided all label instructions about protection of bait placements are followed.

With a similar meaning, ‘in and around buildings’ is also used on some labels. This phrase also allows use outdoors to control an infestation of a building and permits bait application within the building as well.

2) ‘Open areas’: covers treating an infestation of rats (but never mice) that is NOT DEMONSTRABLY associated with a building.

Among anticoagulant products, ONLY SOME of those containing difenacoum and bromadiolone are authorised for use in ‘open areas’.

Products containing brodifacoum, difethialone and flocoumafen MUST NEVER be used in ‘open areas’ away from buildings.  It is an offence to do this and may lead to prosecution.

3) ‘Burrow baiting’: is permitted on some product labels and means that baits can be applied directly into rodent burrows, generally outdoors. This is ONLY allowed away from buildings IF the product label says that BOTH burrow baiting AND ‘open areas’ use are allowed.

We would also remind anyone who believes rodenticides are being misused or abused can contact the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). You can find details here ( and to report a suspected incident, call 0800 321600.

More information relevant to gamekeepers and rodenticide use can be found here ( and you’re welcome to email us with any queries, no matter how minor, at

Best wishes for the season ahead and for upholding the high integrity of UK gamekeeping.

Yours faithfully

Alan Buckle

Chairman: The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), motto: ‘Think Wildlife’

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Rodenticide Stewardship Essentials

  • Stewardship rules apply to the supply and use of rodenticides being authorised for application by professionals outdoors and carrying labels with ‘stewardship conditions’.
  • Pest controllers, farmers, gamekeepers: All must be certified for access to professional products. Certified = able to show proof of competence. No proof, no supply.
  • Use rodenticides only after careful consideration of all options. Use first those methods you expect to be fully effective but which present lower risks to wildlife.
  • Rodenticide residues in wildlife are being monitored closely.
  • HSE, and other government agencies are overseeing stewardship, wildlife residues and rodenticide availability.

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