First-generation anticoagulants, such as warfarin, are less acutely toxic and are less persistent in animal tissues than the second-generation compounds. It may be assumed that they present a lower risk of both primary and secondary poisoning for non-target animals in most use situations.
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For these reasons, warfarin is a valuable tool in terms of conducting successful rodent control while minimising risk to non-target species, all part of an environmental risk assessment. Importantly, warfarin resistance in Irish rats has not been recorded.
Research examining the possibility of resistance to anticoagulant rodenticides has been carried out on Irish Norway Rats (also known as Brown Rats) and House mice. Resistance to some anticoagulant rodenticides in rats and mice has been detected in parts of central and southern England and south-west Scotland, as well as in populations of these species in other European countries. However, until now, no data was available on the occurrence in Ireland of such resistance. The results have been published in the on-line journal Springer Nature Scientific Reports. This research work was completed by the Molecular Virology Laboratory of the Department pf Agriculture working with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use Ireland and with selected Pest Control Companies. Although the number of rat samples available for analysis was less than planned, no genetic evidence was found of the occurrence and distribution of mutations associated with Norway rat resistance to anticoagulant rodenticides in the Eastern region of Ireland. Given the absence of mutations associated such resistance, it can be concluded that there is a high probability that these are true negative findings or that the prevalence of resistance is very low. This is important because the use of anticoagulants in attempts to control rodent pests that have developed resistance to them, unnecessarily exposes wildlife to poisoning with rodenticides.
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