Non-Chemical Alternatives for Rodent Control (NoCheRo)

Die Silhouette einer Ratte vor grünem HintergrundClick to enlarge
Non-Chemical Alternatives for Rodent Control (NoCheRo)
Source: UBA

In two European workshops, the necessity and relevance of traps as adequate non-chemical alternatives in rodent control were discussed with different stakeholders from industry and authorities to scientific community. As a result, a draft guidance on the assessment of efficacy and animal welfare impact of traps was developed. Further background information on this initiative is provided below.

Scope of the workshop

The control of commensal rodents (rats, mice) today mainly relies on the use of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR). These substances are toxic for reproduction and with few exceptions persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). As such, they pose high risks of accidental poisoning to non-target species and were detected in a vast variety of terrestrial and aquatic species in monitoring studies worldwide. Moreover, anticoagulant rodenticides are highly questionable in terms of humaneness as they cause severe suffering and pain for several days to target rodents. Finally, the development of resistance against these active substances has been documented in different countries.
In Europe, rodenticides are subject to authorization under the Biocidal Products Regulation 528/2012 (BPR) and need to undergo a risk assessment prior to their making available on the market. Due to their critical properties, anticoagulants meet exclusion criteria for approval as biocidal active substances and therefore are considered as candidates for substitution under the BPR. Nevertheless, in 2017, the approval of all anticoagulant rodenticides was renewed for another five years. This decision mainly relied on the conclusion of the comparative assessment that alternatives to anticoagulant rodenticides are limited today. However, in contrast to other authorized rodenticides, non-chemical rodent control methods, namely traps, were not even evaluated because criteria to assess their efficacy, practicability and humaneness are lacking.
The next renewal of AR is due for 2024. One option for ensuring sufficient future rodent control without being dependent on substances with the above-mentioned critical properties is to prepare the ground for non-chemical rodent control measures to be regarded as serious and assessable alternatives to rodenticides.

1st NoCheRo-Workshop
Against this background, the German Environment Agency (UBA) together with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) hosted a European workshop on non-chemical alternatives for rodent control in November 2018 in Brussels. 50 stakeholders from authorities, the European Commission, academics, pest control associations as well as the non-chemical and chemical industry came together to discuss the state of the art of non-chemical rodent control.
During the two-day workshop, the relevance of non-chemical alternatives in rodent control was looked at from three different perspectives (pest control industry, authority, academics). Scientific background on animal welfare aspects, existing trap type approval and certification systems in Sweden and New Zealand were presented. It became apparent that an assessment of traps regarding efficacy and animal welfare impact is lacking for most European countries. As a result of the workshop, a working party with experts from authorities, pest control industry and scientific organizations was established to develop a technical guidance on trap testing and evaluation.

Expert Working Party
During three meetings of the working party, a draft guidance on the evaluation of break back/snap traps was developed. Where possible, the draft guidance was based on the rodenticide efficacy assessment of the Guidance on the Biocidal Products Regulation as well as several standards for animal welfare testing of break back/ snap traps. Further criteria and methods for the evaluation of efficacy of traps were included that are not covered by existing test protocols.

2nd NoCheRo-Workshop
The follow-up workshop on “Non-Chemical Alternatives for Rodent Control” took place in Brussels on 5 February 2020. It was organized by the European Commission (EC) department for Health and Food Safety (DG Santé) and was chaired by the German Environment Agency. The first draft guidance for break back/snap trap was presented to representatives from the EU Member States authorities on biocides, the European Commission, the scientific community, NGOs and industry for discussion. Overall, the guidance was generally accepted by the participants of the workshop. However, some aspects were identified for improvement. The critique points concerned the shelf-life or use-life of traps, effects on non-target organisms, the influence of lure type in the assessment of efficacy, user categories (general public, professionals) and improvement of the good practice code for trap use. It was agreed that the expert working party should rework the guidance in these topics.

The expert working party implemented the raised critique points in the guidance and shared the new version with all participants of the workshop for an additional commenting period. The finalized guidance will be available on this website the 4th quarter of 2020. The guidance can then be used for a comparative assessment of traps as non-chemical alternatives to rodenticides under Article 23(3) of the BPR. Moreover, it could be the basis for a voluntary European certification system, concerning efficacy and animal welfare of traps.

Background information and documents
The outcomes of the group discussions are summarized in the workshop reports, which are linked under “Publications”. List of participants, the welcome addresses as well as the transcripts of all presentations of the 1st workshop are attached to the concerning report. The presentations held during the 1st workshop (A) and 2nd workshop (B) can also be downloaded from this website under “Documents”.