New research published by the Campaign Against Accidental or Illegal Poisoning (CAIP), has shown gamekeepers in England could significantly benefit from attending regular refresher courses on pest control and the use of pesticides.
The research showed that though gamekeepers have a high awareness of legal control methods, access to formal training courses could be improved.
?It is reassuring that our survey highlights the majority of gamekeepers are conscious of the wider impact of pesticides,? a CAIP spokesman said.
?However, the quality of advice given to gamekeepers needs to be better, especially for those looking to control rodents, as the research shows they only occasionally take external advice or sign up for training programmes.?
The study, which surveyed 106 gamekeepers and farmers, was carried out in October 2008.
Its objectives were to determine current practices regarding use of rodenticides and slug pellets for pest control, to identify the factors impacting on the responsible use of rodenticides and to identify the sources of advice and information used by gamekeepers and farmers.
The research found most keepers obtain the majority of their information by talking to others in the industry, reading pack labels or from organisations such as BASC or the National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO).
However, gamekeepers do not recognise any one clearly defined code of practice as their main source of guidance.
Alarmingly, 88% of rodenticide users had not heard of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU).
The research also showed there is little clarity among keepers regarding best practice on controlling crows, magpies and foxes.
Encouragingly, CAIP found gamekeepers were better versed in pest control legislation than farmers.
Nearly all of the gamekeepers that were surveyed recognised shooting and snaring are legal methods of controlling foxes and that shooting and Larsen-traps are legal methods of controlling crows and magpies.
In contrast, 66% of the farmers surveyed were unsure about legal and illegal forms of control and few had attended training recently.
A spokesman for the NGO said: ?Predator control is a major part of most keepers? work, but perhaps only incidental to some farmers.?