South West push for better pest policy

The region's elusive Masked Owl is the face of the owl friendly campaign. Photo: Steve Castan

The region's elusive Masked Owl is the face of the owl friendly campaign. Photo: Steve Castan

The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has declared itself "owl friendly", backing a campaign to protect wildlife by discouraging the use of a troubling class of rodenticides.

Councillors passed the motion on Wednesday, signalling the Shire's official support for the Rodenticide Action Group.

The group's vision is to make the region a haven for owls and other wildlife from rodenticide poisoning, and specifically centres on second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticides.

Shire Coordinator Environment Landcare Services John McKinney said the class of rodenticide threatened wildlife through direct and non-direct consumption, and the Shire was proud to back the initiative.

"Not only can non-target animals eat these baits, they can also be harmed - and often killed - when they eat a mouse or rat that has died or is moving slowly from the poison," he said. "By publicly declaring the region owl friendly, we hope to discourage the use of these rodenticides and increase the uptake of more humane, environmentally-sensitive methods and products."

Some of the animals at risk include nocturnal birds like the Masked and Barn Owls, Boobook and Tawny Frogmouth, as well as diurnal birds of prey, Quenda, Possums, Chuditch and Phascogales.

The Shire already undertakes owl-friendly pest management, but will expand its actions by reaching out to Shire-owned premises that coordinate their own rodent control, investigating how owl friendly measures can be incorporated into demolition requirements, distributing owl friendly information to businesses, and erecting owl friendly displays at libraries.

Rodenticide Action Group Coordinator Boyd Wykes said second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticides represented the bulk of products available at supermarkets and hardware stores, and many people were likely unaware of the insidious problem they posed for nocturnal birdlife and other fauna.

"The Margaret River community is rightfully proud and protective of its extraordinarily rich environment and wildlife," Dr Wykes said.

"We know that our residents and businesses would be horrified to find out that the poisons many are using to control rats and mice are also killing a wide range of wildlife, including owls that are our natural allies in controlling these pests."

The group will host an event on 27 November from 5.30-7pm at Margaret River HEART.

It will include information on owl friendly rodent control as well as illustrated talks, art, a book display and complimentary nibbles. Register at bit.ly/36uMAEq

For more info on owl friendly rodent control visit owlfriendly.org.au