by Countryside Alliance

A historic town located on the River Avon in Wiltshire has banned lethal pest control as part of a wider ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration brought in last year. 

In a published statement, bosses at Bradford- on- Avon council said that the council: “will, as far as the law allows, deny access to those engaged in, and otherwise prohibit, culling or hunting and other types of animal destruction on lands that it controls or manages”.

It added “where necessary, this will include deployment of non-lethal methods of rodent control on Town Council lands”.

The announcement has caused concern among local pest control experts, who argue the town has a historic problem with rodents as a result of the old network of drains. The Countryside Alliance believes that such a ban is a public health risk. Leaving pest controllers with no other option other than to release rodents outside the town, only for them to return to their food source, offers little reassurance.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Scott Mays, Company Director of Wiltshire Pest Services, said: “Rats are pretty prevalent there because of the old network of drains, lots of them get out of the sewers and they can get into properties by those means as well - so it’s always a problem in Bradford on Avon,” 

The ban brings with it concerns over effective methods of pest control to carry out. The option of introducing live capture traps is both labour intensive and costly.

Mr. Mays added: “The only non-lethal type of control would be a live capture trap which would have to be checked every 24 hours,” said Mr. Mays.

I don’t quite know how that would work - the town would be overrun with rats”. 

Responding to the ban, Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance said: “ It is astonishing that a local council would seek to prevent the legal control of rodents and pests when the overwhelming evidence makes clear that it is necessary to do so to protect public health, particularly in a town located next to a river. As the policy currently stands it will put people’s health at risk from a number of rodent borne diseases and leave pest controllers with the ridiculous option of catching rats and releasing them to return to their food source.  

He added: “This was a dangerous decision and in the interest of public health, Bradford on Avon council should urgently reverse it immediately.” 

Following extensive news coverage of the decision, Bradford- on- Avon produced a second statement which said: “ It by no means states that the Town Council will fail to act responsibly in the event of an infestation.” 

In response, Tim Bonner added: “The council’s position is increasingly illogical. It is now accepting that it has a legal duty to control rats, but says that it will only allow the killing of rats when there is an “infestation”. I am sure that Bradford on Avon residents will be thrilled that the council will only sanction lethal control when rats are running across their doorsteps. All sensible pest control is focused on ensuring that rat populations do not reach the level of infestations when they are bound to become a threat to human health.”

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