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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Global Trends in the Development of Rodenticides and Mammalian Pest Control Technologies

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The history of discoveries in rodenticide development and control technology as well as current and future-focused research are explored. Traps and older poisons such as red squill, arsenic, and cyanide have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Between 1940 and 1980 there was a period of innovation with the discovery of new molecules, including acute toxins and slower acting anticoagulants. The period 1980 to 2018 has been a time for improved utilization of individual tools and research to retain registrations, develop new toxins and delivery systems, and explore non-lethal control options. However, despite these advances, decades old broad-spectrum toxins and traplines are still the mainstay of pest control. Technological leaps are needed to achieve much more precise, affordable, and socially acceptable pest control. The period 2018 to 2050 should be a time for accelerated innovation. There are exciting opportunities for transformational change based on the integration of existing and new tools, such as advances in automated species recognition systems, new self-resetting traps, and species-specific toxin-delivery systems. Over-reliance on 'silver bullet' technologies for small mammal pest control is the wrong approach to biodiversity conservation. This has been demonstrated through two decades of challenging research on viral vectored immunocontraception, and would apply if all pest control research focused on a single toxin, one new engineering-based technology, or on gene editing, which has potential, but will not be a panacea for all mammal pests. Balance is important, with research supporting the skill of pest control practitioners and supporting emerging technologies, as well as novel biocontrol or genetic research. There has been no focused research aimed at integrating a broad suite of new tools, and incorporating disruptive technologies from completely different fields. We believe that science and technology have now advanced such that automated, online, and real-time systems for monitoring and managing pests are achievable in the next decade.

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