The risks to non-target birds and other wildlife from the use of vertebrate pesticides, including anticoagulant rodenticides, are determined to a significant extent by species' intrinsic susceptibility, and the toxicokinetics of the compounds used. Brodifacoum is highly toxic to birds and mammals. The acute toxicity of brodifacoum to birds in New Zealand varies from <1 mg/kg in pūkeko (Porphyrio p. melanotus), the native swamp hen, to >20 mg/kg in the paradise shelduck (Tadorna variegata). Like other second-generation anticoagulants brodifacoum is strongly bound to vitamin K epoxide reductase and will persist, apparently for at least 6 months, in organs and tissue containing this enzyme, e.g., liver, kidney, and pancreas. The unique toxicokinetics of this class of compound exacerbates the risk of primary and secondary poisoning of non-target species. Vertebrate pest control programmes in New Zealand using bait containing brodifacoum have resulted in the primary and secondary poisoning and sub-lethal contamination of non-target species. These include native raptors, such as the Australasian harrier (Circus approximans) and morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae), other native birds such as the pūkeko, weka (Gallirallus australis), southern black-backed gull (Larus dominicanus), and kiwi (Apteryx spp.), and introduced mammals, including game animals. There are increasing numbers of reports worldwide of wildlife contamination and toxicosis after the use of second-generation anticoagulants. All pest control activities require careful risk–benefit assessment in view of their potential to cause adverse environmental impact. Monitoring of wildlife for pesticide residues will provide data that can be used to reduce the risk of anticoagulant bioaccumulation and mortality in non-target species.
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Eason, C.T., Murphy, E.C., Wright, G.R. et al. Assessment of Risks of Brodifacoum to Non-target Birds and Mammals in New Zealand. Ecotoxicology 11, 35–48 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013793029831
- non-target species