New study on long-term increase in rodenticides in European polecats

Polecats (Mustela putorius), like red kites, are particularly at risk of exposure to rodenticides because they feed directly on rats.

A study, conducted by PhD student Katie Sainsbury and co-supervised by the University of Exeter,  the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the Vincent Wildlife Trust and part supported by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, has shown that 79% of European polecats in England and Wales are currently exposed to second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). This rate of exposure is 1.7 fold higher than in the 1990s.

The study also demonstrated that feeding strategy (likelihood of feeding on rats), geographical location, habitat type (pastoral vs arable landscape) and age of animal influences the extent of exposure in polecats.

The PBMS contributed to this study by managing the collection of polecat carcasses found by members of the public.  Analysis of SGAR residues were conducted in the CEH Analytical Chemistry Laboratories.

The full citation for the study is:  Sainsbury, K.A., Shore, R.F., Schofield, H., Croose, E., Pereira, M.G. Sleep, D., Kitchener, A.C., Hantke, G., McDonald, R.A. 2018.  A long-term increase in secondary exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides in European polecats Mustela putorius in Great Britain.  Environmental Pollution 236 689-698.

It can be viewed at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.02.004

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