Photo Credit: Michael Daley

Is your local council Owl Friendly? Here’s how you can make it!

Adin Lang
4 min readJun 14, 2024


If you’re concerned about the impact rat poisons are having on the health of owl populations, there’s something you can do about it.

You can send the below template to your local council to make change via direct action and education. Simply send the template (or this story) to your Mayor or Local Councillor and ask them to move it at the next council meeting — simple!

The template has been drafted in collaboration with Bird Life Australia and Owl Friendly Margaret River — so it covers off all the important pieces you need to make your suburb Owl Friendly just in time for Owl Awareness Day — August 4th 2024

I moved this exact template at a recent Fremantle Council meeting and received unanimous support from my colleagues.


Investigate adoption of “Owl Friendly” principles and practices


Second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticides (SGARs) represent the bulk of products available for use without restriction at supermarkets and hardware stores to manage rodent issues for homes, businesses and agriculture. Many people are not aware of the danger they pose to our wildlife and pets, even when used in accordance with packaging information. World-wide SGARs have been found to debilitate and kill a wide range of wildlife through poisoning resulting from access to the baits and in ‘secondary poisoning’ of wildlife that eat live and dead rodents and other wildlife that have eaten bait. These ‘one-dose-kills’ poisons take months to metabolise in baited animals and in animals that ingest the poison through secondary pathways. Animals that eat these ‘one-dose-kills’ baits still take days to die, in which time they can eat multiple doses and leave bait stations to desperately seek water both day and night, exposing diurnal as well as nocturnal predators and scavengers to ‘toxic time-bombs’ of poison.

Wildlife at risk from SGARs in metropolitan suburbs include all marsupials and birds attracted to the grain-based baits and all diurnal and nocturnal marsupials and birds that feed on dead and dying animals that have accessed the bait.

The active ingredients in so-called first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARS) are blood-thinners such as warfarin and coumatetralyl that require multiple doses to be lethal since they readily metabolise. This means that live and dead rodents and other animals that ingest the poison contain very low residues. Use of such baits significantly decreases the risk of secondary poisoning of wildlife and pets, and the cost of treatment, while greatly increasing the likelihood of recovery when treated. There is no evidence that rodents anywhere in Australia have evolved resistance to FGARs, and even in countries where this is the case such as Britain, Canada and the USA, governments are acting on scientific evidence of widespread impacts on wildlife to severely restrict or ban use of SGARs.

All community campaigns in Australia and world-wide to restrict use of SGARs emphasise that ‘poison is poison’; that FGARs still kill anything that repeatedly eats the baits and are harmful if not lethal when ingested through secondary pathways. All means to manage rodent issues such as hygiene, blocking access and use of non-poison traps need to be promoted while accepting that sometimes there is a need to resort to poison.

Ultimately, placing restrictions on sale and use of SGARs is the responsibility of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. An APVMA review which commenced with community consultation way back in 2020 is not due to be completed until at least 2025. State governments are not taking unilateral action until this review is completed but many local governments are addressing the issue now in order to protect their local wildlife and pets, while anticipating that such action will be a requirement of the APVMA review.

One of Australia’s peak conservation bodies, Birdlife Australia, has developed awareness materials to support community groups and Shires to act locally on this issue.

Many local governments in WA have taken steps to manage rodents in a wildlife responsible manner. To date, councils that have publicly committed to being ‘Owl Friendly’, following the lead of Augusta-Margaret River, are Denmark, Nannup and Mundaring. The background briefing notes and wording of motions passed by these LGAs are publicly available as templates for other councils to utilise. Commitment to Owl Friendly practice and promotion aligns with broader local government strategies and plans. For example, Mundaring Shire’s commitment is a component of its Local Biodiversity Strategy, being implemented by a Land for Wildlife Officer, while that of Nannup Shire achieves Strategic Community Plan commitments.


That the (Insert Local Government) investigate “Owl Friendly” principles and practices within the City’s areas of responsibility and influence including:

1. Ensuring that rodenticide treatments used by the City for protection of its assets are “owl friendly”

2. Specifying rodenticide treatments in commercial pest operator contracts

3. Supporting engagement activities to educate the community such as:

  • Event for residents How to Be Owl Friendly (with Boyd, Simon Cherriman and Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre or other subject matter experts)
  • Production of Owl Friendly (Insert Local Government) bumper stickers
  • Including Owl Friendly info on our website

4. Sourcing and providing information from BirdLife Australia to the community and business on “owl friendly” choices for rodent control

5. Environmental Health Officer providing educational flyers to all food businesses and caravan parks as part of their regular inspections

6. The (Insert Local Government) contact Owl Friendly Margaret River to seek their support, initially by briefing Council and the community on their experience of partnership with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River

7. Promotion of the Owl Friendly movement via a co-ordinated media campaign For Owl Awareness Day — August 4th 2024

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