The new IPM system for controlling rats and mice, both outdoors and indoors, is mandatory after 1 January 2023. Within that system, all rodenticides based on a number of designated substances may only be used as a last resort by certified professionals. This applies to all rodenticides based on the following substances: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, chlorophacinone, coumatetralyl, difenacoum, difethialone, flocoumafen and cholecalciferol. Alphachloralose is not a designated substance and therefore products based on it are not covered by this IPM system.
Background and justification
Products to control rats and mice are often based on anticoagulants (blood thinners), which are extremely toxic to birds, predators and pets, and most are persistent in the environment. Frequent use of such products may also lead to resistance. Despite their toxicity, the European Union has stipulated that anticoagulant-based products and cholecalciferol-based rodenticides may be used conditionally because they are indispensable for rat and mouse control, due in part to the public health risks of these animals.
European Member States can decide what measures to take to ensure that these products are used only when absolutely necessary. This means that the safeguards are tailored to the situation in each Member State. The Netherlands has decided to implement a system based on integrated pest management (IPM). In that system, before cholecalciferol-based anticoagulants and rodenticides are deployed as a last resort, preventive measures and non-chemical methods are used first. This means removing sources of food, eliminating nesting sites and passageways, monitoring populations, and using traps and clamps to prevent infestations.
Certification of professionals
This IPM system went into effect in 2017 for outdoor rat control; in 2023 it will go into effect for all uses of cholecalciferol-based anticoagulants and rodenticides for controlling rats and mice, both outdoors and indoors. Effective implementation of this IPM system requires expert knowledge. This means that only professional users who have demonstrable knowledge of IPM and can also use the system correctly in practice will be permitted to use these products. To ensure that the IPM system is implemented correctly, professional users must be certified.
In April 2021, the KPMB (foundation for pest management certification) published a new version of its IPM rodent management handbook (Handboek IPM-Knaagdierbeheersing, in Dutch). In September 2021, the corresponding certification scheme (in Dutch) was published. Pest management companies can find all information needed to become certified on the website www.ipm2023.nl (in Dutch).
As a result of these changes, as of 2023 private individuals will no longer be allowed to use anticoagulants and cholecalciferol-based agents to control mice and rats. For this group, many alternatives are available as well as chemical products based on alphachloralose. Private individuals can also hire a professional pest controller if necessary. Professionals will still be allowed to use anticoagulants and cholecalciferol-based rodenticides as of 2023, but only within the IPM system and if they are certified to do so. Farmers have the option of becoming trained and certified and taking charge of rat and mouse control themselves through IPM, or hiring a professional pest controller.
Emphasis on prevention
The emphasis will therefore be on prevention: structural measures to prevent infestations from breaking out. If an infestation is imminent despite these measures, cholecalciferol-based anticoagulants and rodenticides also remain available as a measure of last resort. This ensures that the use of anticoagulants and cholecalciferol-based agents is minimised; the use of these products is authorised only under the above conditions.
Products with the previous, unmodified labels may still be sold until 29 June 2023 and existing stocks may be used (run-down period) until the end of 2023. As of 1 January 2023, however, professional pest controllers and farmers must be certified and must work according to the new IPM rules! Private individuals are allowed to use existing stocks of products with the old labels in 2023 (run-down period), but from 26 December 2023, only alphachloralose-based agents will be available to them for indoor mouse control.