Organisation - August 16, 2012

'It was a hectic day'

Who? Bastiaan Meerburg
What? Was interviewed in 8 radio programmes last week and made the front page of De Telegraaf.
Why? Meerburg announced that he was looking for rat droppings to measure rats' resistance to pesticides, and the Dutch press pounced on the story.

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Had a lot of journalists on the phone?
'You can say that again. We issued a press release on Tuesday 7 August asking the general public to send us rat droppings. The next day I had six radio interviews, including with Ron Brandsteder, Ruud de Wild and the Radio 1 news. It was clearly the silly season. But that is exactly what I wanted - to get people's attention and get them to send us droppings.'
Has it worked?
'By 9 August I already had rat droppings from eleven different postal code areas. What also worked well was that I was able to refer them to the website bruinerat.nl for more information. That's because we only want wild brown rat droppings. The website had nearly 700 visitors on the first day. We are hoping to get hundreds of samples.'
Is resistance to pesticides a big problem?
'It seems to be. Last year we did an exploratory study in which we collected dead rats' tails, then extracted the DNA to determine whether there was resistance. And there was. Now we want more samples and we want to see where resistance is developing - hence the importance of the postal codes. We are working with droppings this time as I don't think many people would send us rats' tails.' 

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