29 July 2015

New course allows gamekeepers to continue using rodenticides

A new one-day course will allow gamekeepers to go oRodn controlling rats using professional rodenticides after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) deadline of 1 July 2016.

Representative bodies for shooting and gamekeeping have combined with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) and with BASIS Registration Ltd to offer the new course, Rat Control for Gamekeepers, which will include the necessary certification for successful candidates to go on buying and using professional rodenticides after product authorisations change on 1 July 2016.

Thereafter, anyone without an appropriate certificate will be restricted to using amateur-pack rodenticides, or will have to rely on traps, shooting and terriers - unless they have an alternative qualification for using Aluminium Phosphide gas.

The new rodenticide course, jointly owned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance (CA), Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) and CRRU will be available from the end of August, giving gamekeepers eleven months in which to attend before the new restrictions come in. It is approved on behalf of the HSE and meets their requirements for best-practice ‘Stewardship’ to reduce the risk of rodenticide residues getting into non-target wildlife.

Courses will be run by BASC, GWCT, the NGO and SGA. Members of any one of those organisations, and the CA, will be entitled to a special members’ cost price of £150 plus VAT, regardless of which organisation is delivering the actual course they attend. Non members will be charged £200 plus VAT wherever they attend. Both fees will cover the training itself, course literature, the exam at the end and, if successful, the issue of a certificate for the purchase and use of professional rodenticides.

The exam, a one hour multiple choice/true or false test, has been compiled and will be overseen by BASIS. It can either be taken on paper immediately after the training finishes, or can be taken later on-line, depending on the course attended, but candidates will need to specify when booking which option they require.

The first dates and venues for the new Rat Control for Gamekeepers course are now being arranged, with the following already in the diary and available for booking direct with the organisations that are running them:

Other courses will be arranged by BASC, GWCT, NGO and SGA in the weeks and months ahead and those interested should keep an eye on their membership publications and those organisations’ websites for details of courses near to them. Remember that you can go on a course run by any one of the training organisations and you will still get the discounted rate provided you are a member of one of the five gamekeeping sector co-owners, including the CA.

“We have worked together to make attending these courses as easy and economical as possible,” said Charles Nodder, adviser to the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, who chaired the gamekeeping sector meetings that put the training together.

“There is plenty of time for everyone to get qualified before the 31 July 2016 deadline. No-one likes extra bureaucracy but two years ago we were on the brink of losing rat bait altogether. Now we have an excellent course in best practice, put together by the shooting industry for its own people and fully approved on behalf of the HSE.

“It will give gamekeepers a proof of competence for the use of professional-only anticoagulant rodenticides, both first and second generation products.” Charles went on to thank all the organisations, including CRRU, who had worked so effectively together to make the new course available.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s Head of Game and Deer Management said: “As part of the stewardship process we have worked together to develop a course which will not only provide the necessary qualification to allow the continued purchase and use of these products but importantly it will help to reduce residues in non-target species, which is what led to calls for rat bait to be banned in the first place”

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance commented: “The work of keepers is a vital part of countryside management. The Countryside Alliance is delighted that this course has been approved and will enable keepers to continue the responsible use of rodenticides, which are an essential tool.”

Some gamekeepers may already have undertaken training for rodenticide use that is compliant with the new rules. Others may prefer to qualify themselves via alternative courses, although Rat Control for Gamekeepers is recommended as the only course specifically developed for the gamekeepers’ needs. A full list of past qualifications that will be valid, and all new courses available, is on the CRRU website

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