Landholders encouraged to consider rodent bait choices to protect birds of prey

As mice numbers once again ramp up around the region, North West Local Land Services is advising landholders to be aware of the ingredients in rodent baits they are putting out to protect their crops and property.

Raptors that prey on agricultural pests are at risk of secondary poisoning from eating poisoned animals, such as rodents poisoned with the newer, single-feed rat and mouse poisons containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone or difenacoum.

Angela Baker, Senior Land Services Officer says the older, multi-feed baits based on warfarin or coumatetralyl are safer for native wildlife.

“To make better choices for our wildlife, we are encouraging landholders to contact their local reseller for first generation bird-friendly rodent control poisons.”

Dr. Stephen Debus, Adjunct Lecturer, University of New England and ecological consultant to the Local Land Services on native bird projects says that there are 24 species of birds of prey in Australia, of which up to 18 can be seen in the North West Local Land Services region.

Around the Tamworth area, there are five listed threatened species: the square-tailed kite, white-bellied sea-eagle, spotted harrier, little eagle and black falcon.

The sea-eagle is associated with large waterbodies, but also needs a large tree in a quiet woodland patch in which to nest.

“The other four threatened species are birds of woodland and wooded farmland and in the case of the spotted harrier and black falcon, they also forage out into grassland, crops and pasture. All four require large trees, often in quiet woodland patches or in paddock trees, for nesting and perching, and most will use dead trees as lookout posts when hunting. These four are all too small to bother lambs and rarely bother smaller livestock or domestic animals. On the contrary, they prey heavily on agricultural and urban pests.”

“The spotted harrier takes many mice, and the black falcon takes many pest birds such as starlings and feral pigeons as well as rats and rabbits. The square-tailed kite frequently preys on noisy miners, an abundant species that drives smaller native bush birds away.”

Other threats to raptors include removal of woodland habitat and paddock trees, overgrazing, collisions with barbed-wire fences and high-speed traffic, and illegal persecution (shooting, trapping and deliberate poisoning) when scavenging raptors are wrongly blamed for killing the dead animal they are feeding on.

People can help our threatened raptors by:

  • retaining remnant woodland, paddock trees and groundcover in farmland;
  • rehabilitating riparian areas and reconnecting the landscape with native vegetation;
  • using raptor and owl-friendly rodent baits containing warfarin or coumatetralyl, strictly according to label instructions and then disposing of the dead animals;
  • avoiding barbed wire where practicable or marking collision blackspots in some way (e.g. with flagging tape);
  • educating others of the important functions that raptors have in our environment
  • and being wildlife aware when driving and moving roadkill carcasses off roads where safe to do so.

For more information on bird-friendly rodent control, visit BirdLife Australia.

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