Gardeners foe wins reprieve with ban on slug pellet that kills pets

Slugs win reprieve! Scourge of gardeners will come slithering back after government bans chemical pellets that can kill pets and wildlife

  •  The government has banned the use of slug pellets containing metaldehyde
  •  There are fears the chemical can harm pets and other wildlife
  •  Makers of the pellets have disputed claims it harms non-target species 
  •  Late wet summer has led to a perfect breeding ground for slugs and snails

A foe of many gardeners and farmers may have gained a reprieve as a popular slug pellet is to be banned over fears that it could be lethal to pets and gastropod predators like hedgehogs.

Many green fingered enthusiasts reach for pellets containing metaldehyde which is very efficient at killing slugs.

The poison is found in many high street stores and it is widely used to control the slug problem.

A ban on slug pellets containing metaldehyde has given farmers and gardeners a headache

The first problem with this is that it drastically reduces the number of slugs about for those animals which eat them to find.

Another unwanted side effect is that it can build up, to dangerous levels, the amount of toxins in birds, cats and dogs if they eat it.

Over the years wildlife campaigners have campaigned to have the pellet scrapped but they have faced stiff opposition.

A ban was set to go head last year but, after the company behind the pellets launched a legal challenge, it was scrapped.

Chiltern Farm Chemicals, which creates the pellets, argued that they were not lethal to other animals.

Since then the government has heard evidence from other sources such as the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive which highlighted the risk of Metaldehyde to birds and mammals.

The late wet summer has proven to be an ideal breeding ground for slugs and snails meaning an increase in the use of metaldehyde based pellets.

The government has ruled that the use of slug pellets containing metaldehyde must be phased out by 2022

Metaldehyde is perfect for killing slugs but it can also be harmful to other wildlife and pets

This has led to a high level of leaching of the chemical into some water courses. The chemical is also harmful to aquatic life.

This new evidence has proven to be strong enough for the government to bring in a ban.

Victoria Prentis, the farming minister, told The Telegraph: ‘The scientific evidence is clear – the risks that metaldehyde poses to the environment and to wildlife are too great.

‘The government is committed to building back greener from coronavirus and the restrictions on the use of metaldehyde are another step towards building a cleaner and greener country for the next generation.’

Gardeners and businesses have until 2022 under the government’s ban to get rid of pellets containing metaldehyde. 

There are worries that phasing out the use of metaldehyde based pellets may prove very harmful to farmers’ crops and gardener’s  flowers.

Officials, though, claim that pellets which contain ferric phosphate are just as effective as metaldehyde ones, but without the added side effects for wildlife.

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