News - June 18, 2020

Bait boxes

Vincent Oostvogels

Plus Ultra II was completed at the end of May. The newest building on campus, it boasts a BREEAM Excellent certificate. This means – I just looked it up – that it’s amazingly sustainable. Only surpassed by buildings with a BREEAM Outstanding certificate.

Apparently, the sustainability is partly expressed in the landscaping around the building. I took a look and if the number of cute facilities for wild animals counts as a measure of sustainability, I can see why Plus Ultra II scores so highly. There are so many nesting boxes that if I were a great tit, I’d get stressed about choosing where to live. There are insect hotels and they’ve even installed two concrete hedgehog houses.

All this is a bit of a contrast with the presence of black plastic rat bait boxes labelled ‘Caution! Do not touch! Rodenticide!’ Such boxes are found all over the campus, incidentally. They were once developed to make it possible to put out rat poison without harming other animal species, but we know by now that they don’t work perfectly. Small birds and mammals can still access the poison, and it reaches predators through the rats. Instead of poison, you could put a trap in the boxes, so I just hope that’s what they have done. But it does amaze me that for sustainability reasons, we will go so far as to make houses for hedgehogs, yet we still see rats as vermin. If we really want a green campus, I reckon it’s high time we accepted the rat as a species among others.

Vincent Oostvogels (24) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences