Workshop: Non-Chemical Alternatives for Rodent Control (NoCheRo)

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

In November 2018, representatives from industry, pest control associations, European Commission, authorities and the scientific community gathered in Brussels and discussed the necessity and relevance of traps as adequate non-chemical alternatives in rodent control. This website provides background information on the European workshop and the follow-up activities.

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 authorisation 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.

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, 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.

The two-day workshop was subdivided into two parts starting on both days with presentations followed by a World Café. During part one, the relevance of non-chemical alternatives in rodent control was looked at from three different perspectives (pest control industry, authority, academics). During part two, international experts presented scientific background on animal welfare aspects, existing trap type approval and certification systems and provided insight into government-led rat eradication programs using non-chemical control measures.  In the subsequent group discussions, the focus of part one laid on organizational and of part two on technical aspects of non-chemical methods in rodent control with a view to establish a scientific based assessment.

Conclusions
The lack of criteria for the assessment and certification of rodent traps was regarded as a major deficit by the workshop attendants. During the workshop, it became also apparent that non-chemical pest/rodent control industry lack an organization, which represents their interests and promotes traps.

Overall, the participants of this first workshop on non-chemical alternatives for rodent control agreed that traps offer a serious alternative to chemical rodent control. Traps deserve more attention and should be fostered as new technologies which will help not only modernise the pest control industry, but can also present a new means of tox-free and green pest control.

Background information and documents
The outcomes of the group discussions are summarized in the workshop report, which is linked under “Documents”. List of participants, the welcome addresses as well as the transcripts of all presentations are attached to this report. The presentations held during the workshop can also be downloaded from this website under “Documents”.

Outlook
Subsequently to the workshop, a working party was set up consisting of experts from industry and science. Addressing the lack of criteria for the assessment and certification of rodent traps, its tasks are to find possibilities for certification and to draft a testing guideline. The guideline draft will be presented and discussed in a follow-up workshop, which is scheduled for 2020. Further Information will be provided via this website.