Anticoagulant rodenticide use, non-target impacts and regulation: A case study from Australia
School of Science
The impacts of anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) on non-target wildlife have been well documented in Europe and North America. While these studies are informative, patterns of non-target poisoning of wildlife elsewhere in the world may differ substantially from patterns occurring in Australia and other countries outside of cool temperate regions due to differences in the types of ARs used, patterns of use, legislation governing sales, and potential pathways of secondary exposure. Most of these differences suggest that the extent and severity of AR poisoning in wildlife may be greater in Australia than elsewhere in the world. While many anecdotal accounts of rodenticide toxicity were found – especially in conjunction with government control efforts and island eradications – no published studies have directly tested rodenticide exposure in non-target Australian wildlife in a comprehensive manner. The effects of private and agricultural use of rodenticides on wildlife have not been adequately assessed. Synthesis of reviewed literature suggests that anticoagulant rodenticides may pose previously unrecognised threats to wildlife and indigenous people in Australia and other nations with diverse and abundant reptile faunas relative to countries with cooler climates where most rodenticide ecotoxicology studies have been conducted. To address the identified knowledge gaps we suggest additional research into the role of reptiles as potential AR vectors, potential novel routes of human exposure, and comprehensive monitoring of rodenticide exposure in Australian wildlife, especially threatened and endangered omnivores and carnivores. Additionally, we recommend regulatory action to harmonise Australian management of ARs with existing and developing global norms.