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The use of novel pest control devices from the US, such as the Rodenator and Burrow Blaster, has prompted concern from industry experts as reports emerge about their misuse.

“These devices are designed not only to flush burrowing pests, but to destroy their habitat. This is to pest control what napalm was to jungle warfare,” said Shooting Times Pest Control columnist, Ian Barnett.

He added that indiscriminate use by unwary or unreliable controllers, without a proper risk assessment, could result in disaster: “Damage to utility services, collapsed highways, flooding, explosion, electrocution – who knows?”

Natural England admitted it also has concerns about using these devices to collapse burrows because of the practical difficulties of ensuring that burrows and tunnels are free of animals.

Claims that it takes ‘one minute per burrow to do the job’ and that the device can be used to destroy 250 to 300 rabbit burrows a day give rise to concern. Pest controllers, farmers or anyone else considering using such equipment to collapse empty burrows are advised to consider carefully whether or not they are confident that their proposed use of the device will be legal.

The 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (Section 11(1)) states that killing any animal with explosives (other than firearms ammunition) is an offence. There is a technical possibility of such use being licensed under Section 16, but no such licence has ever been issued for Rodenators.

A National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) spokesman told Shooting Times: “In September 2006, when the Rodenator appeared in the UK, we wrote to DEFRA asking whether it was legal to use the device for collapsing empty burrows.”

“DEFRA replied that the device could be used legally for this purpose, provided the burrow was not protected (ie. a badger sett or in an ancient monument) and that all reasonable means were taken to ensure no animals were inadvertently killed. However, this did not amount to a DEFRA licence, as some have suggested.”

For further advice or information, contact Paul Butt at Natural England, tel 01233 811265 or email paul.butt@naturalengland.org.uk.

The rest of this article appears in 29 May issue of Shooting Times.

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