When Gary Howard, the Managing Director of Monitor Pest and Bird Control, first broached the subject of corporate membership of Kent Wildlife Trust, there were a few raised eyebrows. The idea of a company whose core business is the control and management of insects, wildlife and birds having such a close affiliation with their regional Wildlife Trust seemed, at first glance, to represent a stark contradiction. However, as Gary explains, this presumed conflict is rooted in a common misapprehension of the role of the modern professional pest controller, which he describes as more closely resembling environmental stewardship than the traditional extermination model commonly associated with the industry.
“The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) has changed the face of pest control irrevocably”, Gary explains. “Controllers can no longer use rodenticides and other harmful chemicals without consideration for the wildlife that shares our environs. As an industry, we have an obligation to think about the consequences of our actions, and minimise the potential damage that accidental rodenticide exposure can cause species such as barn owls, kestrels and red kites”.
This is, however, easier said than done, as Gary explains: “The challenge with which we are faced is balancing the demands of the consumer with responsible pest control. We all want high-quality, safe food, but to achieve this, the standards in all stages of food production need to be absolutely beyond reproach. This has quite rightly led to stricter quality assurance requirements, with organisations like the British Retail Consortium and SALSA setting the bar increasingly high to ensure that standards continue to improve. Among these requirements is the need to effectively control rodents, which otherwise contaminate and destroy food at every stage, from the farm to the supermarket shelf. Rodenticides remain the best way to manage this problem, but we are increasingly aware that the way we use these chemicals causes contamination of some of our most important wildlife species. It is because of this that we ensure we apply best practice at all times to minimise exposure to wildlife. It is a tricky balance to achieve effective and comprehensive rodent control without also endangering other species, but we are committed to doing so”.
Based in Northfleet, but with a reach which extends throughout London and the South East, Monitor has provided specialist pest control and prevention services to public and private sector organisations for over 25 years. As part of their work, they ensure that infestations or issues which may otherwise be dealt with inappropriately (such as the removal of protected species like bees) are managed with due care, attention and respect – walking the line between the consumer demand for pest-free homes and offices, and responsible environmental management.
Monitor’s specialist bird control service also brings challenges in respect of humane wildlife management, but their use of innovative deterrents such as optical gel (which appears as fire to birds), and electrical tracks which emit an uncomfortable but completely harmless pulse to deter birds from landing, demonstrate their dedication to finding safe, responsible alternatives to traditional, less humane methods.
Gary was particularly pleased to learn that Monitor is the first company from the general pest control industry to be considered for membership of Kent Wildlife Trust, and credits his team and their commitment to environmental responsibility for this. He concludes: “We are extremely lucky to live in this part of the UK, and I hope that our collective efforts as Trust members will ensure that the Garden of England continues to bloom for many years to come”.