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Conservative-led Council Seeks to Expand Mote Park Wildlife Poisoning Campaign into Natural Environment

January 4, 2015 11:44 AM

This shocking photograph shows a newly installed poison bait station installed close to the banks of the River Len outfall from the lake at Mote Park, within easy reach of curious children and pets. This is an unprecedented expansion of 'pest control' activity into the Park's natural environment. Indeed, the Park is designated a Kent Wildlife Trust 'Local Wildlife Site'

The rodenticide hoppers were presumably installed to facilitate the extermination of resident wood mouse, yellow-necked mouse, brown rat, field vole and bank vole populations. However, the clear intention to introduce toxic bait so close to the river also reduces the chance of legally protected water vole ("Ratty" of Wind in the Willows fame) re-colonising the Park from their refuge within the downstream River Len nature reserve. Another big concern is the role of small rodents at the base of the food web in the Park. Poisoning is sure to have a big negative impact on predators including weasels, stoats, foxes, tawny owls, kestrels, pike, adder and even domestic cats and dogs, whether through accumulation of toxins or reduction in availability of prey.

Council bureaucrats cite archaic legislation dating back to the 1940s, when food rationing and poor grain security meant that rodents were a potentially serious threat to human food supplies, to justify their action. Cllr. Tony Harwood, who chairs the management committee of the nearby River Len Local Nature Reserve, rejects this justification: "Council officials should use more common-sense and rule out any expensive, cruel, ultimately pointless and potentially illegal poisoning campaign by the River Len at Mote Park." He added: "Rather than dragging out 1940s legislation Maidstone Council should be guided by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, which states that public authorities must show regard for conserving biodiversity in all their actions."

Maidstone Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr. Fran Wilson summed the situation up when she stated "Maidstone's wildlife is being wiped-out at an unprecedented rate by rampant green field development, so it is especially sad that our Council now seems intent on poisoning our small mammal populations within their natural environment, in our premier green space."

She continued: "We have heard reference from council officials, without any supporting evidence, of a risk from small mammals spreading disease to anglers - despite the fact that the River Len outfall from the lake is nowhere near favoured fishing swims, and the animals are in any case only clearing-up discarded bread, which would otherwise foul the water." She concluded: Where do we stop? Do we wipe out every mammal in the natural environment because there is a small risk of disease transfer to humans? This is the nanny state and a total repudiation of common sense and decency!"