29 October 2015

Rodenticide training for gamekeepers

Rat Feeding From HopperA new one-day course was launched in August 2015 allowing gamekeepers to continue controlling rats using professional use rodenticides, after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) deadline of the 1st July 2016 was introduced.

Representative bodies for the shooting and gamekeeping industry 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 includes the necessary training and certification for successful candidates to continue buying and using professional rodenticides after product authorisations change on the 1st July 2016.

Thereafter, any individual without an appropriate certificate will be restricted to using amateur-pack rodenticides, or will have to rely solely on other techniques such as 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 & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association (SGA) and CRRU started in August 2015, giving gamekeepers 11 months in which to attend before the new restrictions come in. The course is approved on behalf of the HSE and meets their requirements for best-practice ‘Stewardship’ to reduce primary and secondary rodenticide poisoning of non-target wildlife.

Courses are run by BASC, GWCT, NGO and SGA and members of any one of these organisations, and the CA, are 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. Fees cover the training itself, course literature, an exam and, if successful, the issue of a certificate for the purchase and use of professional rodenticides.

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

To date, 10 courses have been run with 139 participants. Six of these courses have been run by the GWCT with almost a 100% pass rate. Training feedback has been very positive with something to learn even for the most experience rodenticide user.

The GWCT is running two more courses this year on the 6th November at The Allerton Project in Loddington, Leicestershire and on the 15th December at the Trust’s Fordingbridge headquarters in Hampshire. More courses are planned for 2016 nationwide and we can provide bespoke courses too, so please contact Lynda Ferguson on the details below to register your interest.

Further courses will also be arranged by BASC, NGO and SGA in the weeks and months ahead and those interested should keep an eye on their membership publications and 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 Countryside Alliance.

“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, including 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.”

Although alternative courses exist, Rat Control for Gamekeepers is recommended as the only course specifically developed for the gamekeepers’ needs. A full list of past qualifications which will be valid, and also all new courses available, can be viewed on the CRRU website.

Book your place

Book now for the Rat Control for Gamekeepers course on 6th November in Loddington, Leicestershire or 15th December in Fordingbridge, Hampshire by contacting Lynda Ferguson at GWCT: lferguson@gwct.org.uk or by phone on 01425 651013.

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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