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What Are SGARs?

Rowan Burgess |

Rat and mice populations require control in urban and rural areas. The most common way to do this is by using poisons called rodenticides. However, rodenticides are deadly for other non-target wildlife, livestock, and domestic pets.

So what are SGARs? SGARs, or Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides, have developed due to rodent resistance. Second-generation poisons are far more toxic than their predecessors. 

SGARs work by disrupting the coagulation process or normal blood clotting. After ingesting treated bait, rodents suffer uncontrolled bleeding or haemorrhaging and eventually die.

Unsurprisingly, governments tightly control SGARs because of concern about their environmental impact. Professionals require a licence, plus there’s a Code of Practice to encourage management practices which minimise the use of SGARs.

What Is the Difference Between First and Second-Generation Anticoagulants?

Scientists created first-generation anticoagulants to control rats and mice. Second-generation anticoagulants developed as vermin became resistant to first-generation chemicals and products.

Second-generation rodenticides are far more toxic than first-generation poisons. 

Consequently, the potential for accidental poisoning of the non-target species is much greater than with first-generation products.

Due to their increased toxicity, rodents need only a tiny amount of SGARs for a lethal outcome. The knock-on effect on the environment is significant, so the use of SGARs is now tightly regulated.

Which SGARs Are Currently Authorised for Use in the UK?

The only SGARs currently licensed in the UK are based on one of four active ingredients: bromadiolone, difenacoum, brodifacoum, and flocoumafen.

Brodifacoum and flocoumafen are only legal for use inside a building or enclosed structure, so they have no useful purpose for rat infestations primarily concentrated outside or in open-sided barns or farm buildings that aren’t secure.

Professional users must attend an approved training course and pass an exam to gain a certificate of competence to buy and use SGARs. This training includes the broader issues of environmental impacts and protecting non-target species.

There are also controls on how rodenticides are stored and used following the guidance set out in a Code of Practice. Failure to comply may result in prosecution.

What Are the Environmental Risks Associated With SGARs?

Avian and mammalian species that live in the British countryside may become exposed to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides via their use for vermin control on farms.

Scavenging on rodents killed with SGARs exposes species to death by secondary poisoning. 

Some of these are protected, like red kites. Other animals die because of direct ingestion. 

The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) advises farmers on rodenticide use.

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has run the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) for around four decades. The Scheme examines dead predatory birds usually brought in by the public.

The PBMS has several decades of data showing that barn owls, whose sole diet consists of small rodents, are poisoned by SGARs, with 80%-90% of barn owls in the UK exposed to SGARs.

This information lay behind the development of the Rodenticide Stewardship Regime as it demonstrates that SGARs cause harm to British wildlife. 

The Regime uses barn owls as its sentinel species because of decades of valuable data availability.

How Does Stewardship Aim To Reduce the Exposure of SGARs to Non-Target Species?

SGARs carry with them a high risk of environmental harm. The Rodenticide Stewardship Regime aims to protect wildlife by regulating first and second-generation anticoagulant rodent control products.

The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, CRUU, created and coordinates the Rodenticide Stewardship Regime. Their Code of Practice helps reduce the risk and exposure of non-target species to SGARs and protects wildlife.

Rodenticide products for professional use are only on sale to those who have undertaken an approved course and have a certificate of competency. There are also regulations about the storage and use of these products.

The Code of Practice contains a broader commitment to managing rodent problems and infestations in other ways, such as reducing food sources and making the environment less attractive to rats.

Failure to protect bait traps from access by humans and animals or not complying with the product instructions on the label will lead to prosecution.

The idea behind the Stewardship Regime is to reduce reliance on SGARs, educate professionals in the countryside on their broader impact and, where needed, regulate and control their usage.

Final Thoughts

Rats are a constant problem in the UK in urban and rural areas. They can reproduce at a remarkable rate – a male and female rat can have up to 15,000 offspring in just twelve months.

The other issue with rats is not just their numbers, but the fact they carry and transmit serious diseases like Weill’s disease, Hepatitis C, Salmonella, E coli, and Listeria, and this list is not exhaustive!

No one disputes that rats cannot be allowed to breed indiscriminately. However, farmers must control rats in a way that is responsible for the environment. The use of SGARs is now more tightly controlled than ever.

For the right rodent control products and professional, helpful advice, contact Dalton Engineering today.