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Professional rodenticide users covered by the UK Rodenticide Stewardship Regime – namely, pest controllers, gamekeepers and farmers – are being warned that they have two years to prepare for a significant change in access to second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs).

Despite resistance from several farming organisations, the directors of stewardship regime operator, the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK (CRRU), decided that change was essential for the regime to achieve its purpose.

From January 2026 onwards, all buyers and users of professional SGAR products must hold either a stewardship-specific training certificate less than five years old, or an older one with proof of membership of a stewardship-specific Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme.

As five-year certificate expiry dates approach, holders can either repeat the training and requalify, or join a CPD scheme.

At its 2016 inception, the regime's HSE-led Government Oversight Group set the objective to reduce exposure of wildlife to rodenticides.

The sentinel measure of this is the incidence of SGAR residues in annual surveys of dead barn owls sent to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme by members of the public. Every year, the main causes of death have been vehicle impact or starvation.

CRRU chairman Dr Alan Buckle points out that despite all three user groups making widespread advances including improved competence and best practice, greater understanding of the potential adverse impacts of rodenticides on wildlife, and ways to mitigate them, this target has not yet been met.

"The most recent headline is that a stubbornly static 80% of barn owls carry residues of one or more SGARs," he says. "These changes are designed to strengthen stewardship and protect essential uses of rodenticides for all professional user sectors, especially farmers, by meeting GOG environmental targets.

"Another important strengthening measure, announced in May 2023, was that from July 2024, none of the five SGARs available in the UK can be purchased for use in 'open areas' away from buildings. Clearly, this change makes it more important than ever to read rodenticide product labels carefully and make sure they can be applied legally in the intended locations."

Since January 2023, all stewardship-specific training and certification approved by CRRU has been regulated independently by Ofqual. All qualifying CPD schemes will also be CRRU-approved. Two are available already from BASIS PROMPT and BPCA Registered and more expected to follow during 2024.

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