Permanent baiting – a Europe wide issue

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The topic of permanent baiting took centre stage in the conference room on the first day of Disinfestando 2017, held in Rimini 8 & 9 March. In keeping with the international theme at this year’s event speakers had been invited from across Europe.

Unlike some events where there is a tendency to try to be all things to all people and cram as much into the accompanying seminar programme as possible (our British events often fall into this category), Disinfestando took a more focused approach.

On day 1, there was just one major seminar session billed as a round table on the implications of the Biocidal Product Regulation for anticoagulant rodenticides and, in particular the practice of permanent baiting. This commenced at 15.00 so giving everyone plenty of opportunity to visit the exhibition and grab a bite to eat before settling down to hear what the experts had to say.

Disinfestando speakers
At the rodenticide seminar from left: Dr Dario Capizzi, Dr Elisa Capellá¡n, Prof Pasquale Trematerra,
Dr Ugo Gianchecch, Dr Simone Martini, Marco Benedetti and Dr Pierpaolo Zambotto

There had been a real effort on the part of the organisers, the Italian trade association – Associazione Nazionale della Imprese di Disinfestestazione (ANID) – to attract an international audience. Reflecting this simultaneous translation was on offer – Italian into English – very helpful for your roving Pest reporters – and English into Italian as the speakers from outside Italy chose to speak in the international language of business, English.

It has to be said that some of the technicalities, and let’s face it the Biocidal Product Regulation is not the easiest of topics, caused some difficulty for the translators, nevertheless, the differences in the approach of the different countries in Europe was soon apparent.

Speakers from across Europe
Dr Elisa Capellá¡n from regulatory consultants, Kaeltia Compliance Services provided an overview of the Spanish approach to permanent baiting as well as a summary of the Spanish system for mutual recognition of biocides. Andreas Beckmann from the German trade association, DSV, explained the German regulation governing permanent baiting. Dr Alan Buckle from the UK Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) had been invited to outline the UK’s approach but was unable to attend, but had provided a detailed summary, which was presented by ANID’s CEO, Sergio Urizio.

Speakers on the situation in Italy, not just relating to permanent baiting, but also to the use of anticoagulant rodenticides more generally and the changes that are on the horizon were: Dr Dario Capizzi from the Lazio region’s environment and natural systems department; Dr Pierpaolo Zambotto from the chemical industry association ASSOCASA providing the rodenticide manufacturers viewpoint; Dr Simone Martini, a research consultant; and Dr Ugo Gianchecchi, a professional pest control consultant. The session was chaired by Professor Pasquale Trematerra and the recently elected President of ANID, Marco Benedetti.

To summarise there were some similarities between the countries, but also some wide variation in the approach to permanent baiting – the practice of leaving rodenticide in bait stations for long periods as a means of preventing and/or monitoring for rodents, regardless of whether there is any evidence of recent rodent activity.

In Germany it’s legal
The German approach is very black and white. In general permanent baiting is prohibited. However, it may be used after an assessment by a trained pest control professional as a means of preventing an infestation, but only if there is a high risk of infestation which will threaten the heath of humans or animals and only if there is no affordable alternative. This means it is pretty difficult to justify as there is always an alternative, and how do you measure affordability. If permanent baiting is instigated then the bait stations must be inspected every 28 days.

Andreas & Sergio
Sergio Urizio (left) from ANID and Andreas Beckmann from the German trade association

This is a legal requirement and when it was first introduced there was some grumbling among pest professionals but, having to visit every 28 days is actually proving to be very profitable, so few are complaining now!

In Spain three things must be in place
The Spanish authorities recognise the difference between indoor and outdoor permanent baiting. The former presents a much lower risk to non-target species and is allowed, whereas external permanent baiting can only be used if certain conditions are met. First of all, a rodenticide can only be used in this way if it has been explicitly authorised for the prevention of rodent infestation, or monitoring of rodent activities. Secondly, the person using this method must be a trained professional holding the correct certification and finally, that person must assess the situation and document their decision. Only where the practice is absolutely necessary to protect human or animal health can it be used. The assessment must include an environmental risk assessment.

In the UK it’s voluntary with the threat of restrictions
The UK approach is very similar to the Spanish one except that the UK one is essentially voluntary, albeit with the threat that the use of rodenticides could be further restricted, or even withdrawn from the market, should the targets and timescale set by the UK authorities to reduce the contamination of wildlife not be met. In summary, the UK has concluded that there is a place for permanent baiting, particularly indoors, but only after all other alternatives have been considered. Those who use external permanent baiting must first examine the risks to non-targets and make a decision that those risks are justified by a continuing threat to human or animal health and hygiene. The advice from CRRU is that permanent baiting should no longer be applied as a routine practice and CRRU has published detailed guidance on this topic – a copy of CRRU guidance on permanent baiting is in the Pest library.

In Italy the debate about permanent baiting continues, but with little interest being shown in it by the Italian authorities. Indeed both the Italian Health Ministry and the Superior Health Institute had been invited to the session but, as far as we could make out, neither had sent a representative. The practice of permanent baiting has grown exponentially in recent years in Italy. Indeed many public contracts specify its use as a preventative measure. Several speakers showed examples of boxes positioned to demonstrate compliance with the contract rather than in places where rodents might actually enter the boxes, and as Simone Martini pointed out: “We know that the average bait consumption per bait station is very low.”

Ugo Gianchecchi summed up the situation in Italy well: “One year has passed since our last conference which discussed permanent baiting and what has happened? Nothing! A few regions have threatened sanctions but generally there has been no action – pest controllers are generally all biding their time, preferring to stick with the old ways rather than explain to their customers the benefits of change.”

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