News – Rats blamed for massive fire near Southampton

It is thought rats are to blame for a huge fire that destroyed three coaches and three minibuses at a coach company operations centre.

The blaze broke out at an operations centre in Hedge End, near Southampton on the evening of Saturday 29 December, and, according to the Daily Mail, fire investigators concluded that the most likely cause was a spark from an electrical fault caused by rats chewing through the wires.

The land is said to be owned by a farmer who rents plots out to businesses and individuals.

The fire destroyed six out of the 11 vehicles on the Barfoot and Sons plot at around 17.45 on Saturday, and residents said they saw 40ft flames after hearing an ‘explosion’. There was initial concern that smoke from the fire would be blown across to the M27 motorway, but fire-fighters managed to get it under control, and remained at the site for about four hours.

Steve Barfoot, director of the family coach and minibus hire firm, told the Daily Mail: “If it’s down to rodents, it is frustrating such a small animal caused so much damage and devastation.”

To read the full article in the Daily Mail and to see more pictures, click here.

Source: Pest Magazine

News – Are cat flea infestations increasing?

BBC Radio 4’s consumer programme You and Yours has been flooded with reports of cat flea infestations following its broadcast on this topic last month. Articles have also appeared in the national press and on the BBC News website, with some of the pest control forums taking up the story too.

Some are putting the increase down to two mild, wet summers which, combined with well insulated houses and relatively mild winters, have allowed populations to thrive. Others suggest that it’s the rise of online sales of flea treatment products which has meant that pet owners now often bypass vets and the advice that they can give on tackling flea problems. Yet others are putting the increase down to a rise in resistance to some of the most commonly applied treatments?

Dr Tim Nuttall, veterinary dermatologist at the University of Liverpool, has no doubt that fleas have been increasing, at least over the past five years and particularly over the last two. He says that while resistance is an inevitable part of evolution, the current problem largely appears to be pet owners not properly applying treatments.

So what is going on? Not that long ago, flea treatments were a significant part of a pest controller’s workload, but, with the introduction of spot-on veterinary medicine products, like Frontline, the amount of flea work being done has declined.

Source: Pest Magazine

News – Retired civil servant pleads guilty in squirrel shooting case

On 17 January, Stockport Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Worthington, known locally as ‘the verminator’, trapped the squirrel and shot it twice at point-blank range with a .22.

He assumed it was dead, and went out shopping. On discovering it was still alive when he returned, he shot it a further three times. RSPCA officers turned up after a tip-off from a neighbour and took the squirrel, which was still alive but ‘unresponsive’, to a vet to be put down.

Jamie Foster, a solicitor advocate specialising in animal welfare and fieldsports law, told Shooting Times: “This is yet another example of the RSPCA’s complete lack of perspective in relation to prosecutions. It cannot be said that taking a 75-year old man to court for attempting to kill a squirrel that he had trapped is in the public interest. It is a waste of court time and public money.”

“The suggestion that he should have taken the squirrel to a vet to have it put down is absurd. The journey and the time spent in a waiting room with other animals would have added to the animal’s suffering.”

“In Raymond Elliot’s case [Mr Elliot drowned a squirrel in 2010 and was prosecuted by the RSPCA], the RSPCA argued that a trapped squirrel should be shot. That is exactly what Mr Worthington has done and he has been prosecuted.”

He added: “If people do not want to be prosecuted they should shoot squirrels without trapping them. This way, even if the squirrel is injured and caused suffering, no prosecution can result because the creature has never come under the control of man. This is the sort of absurd result that the RSPCA’s new-found animal rights agenda under the leadership of Gavin Grant is creating.”

Source: Thanks go to Shooting UK for posting this story

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Latest fox attack reignites whole urban fox debate

Urban foxes have once again hit the national headlines following the reported attack on a four-week old baby boy in Bromley, London.

The story, broken by the Mail on Sunday in its 10 February edition, made the front page and has since been picked-up by all the national broadcasting media.

daily mail fox attack

The attack took place on 6 February at the home of the little boy. The child’s mother heard screaming from her son’s room, only to find her son’s hand in the mouth of the fox and one of his fingers had been torn-off. The baby was rushed to St Thomas’ hospital were surgeons managed to reattach the baby’s finger. It is believed the fox entered the house via an open back door.

This incident has once again brought to the fore the entire problem of urban foxes and the previous attacks, including the attack on the Koupparis twin girls in June 2010 – see report here.

Interviewed on the early morning BBC news programme on Sunday 10 February, Richard Moseley from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) explained that attacks like this were extremely rare. He pointed out that people were making foxes tamer by feeding them, but it should not be forgotten that these are wild animals.

To hear the interview click this link to the BBC website – the interview is towards the end of the article.

Meanwhile, speaking on BBC radio, Tim Stevens, a councillor from Bromley, was asked if there should be a cull of urban foxes. He pointed out that this would need to be a co-ordinated campaign including surrounding local authorities if it was to have any chance of success.

Not to miss publicity opportunity, London mayor, Boris Johnson said: “This was a wake-up call to London’s borough leaders who are responsible for pest control. They must come together, study the data, try to understand why this is becoming a problem and act quickly to sort it out.”

Source:  Pest Magazine