Australia’s worst rodent plague in decades is causing some farmers to flee their homes as thousands of mice continue to terrorise farms.
It’s feared the crisis could even last a further two years, with latest figures showing a growing number of mice have been sighted in and around Sydney, New South Wales, in recent months.
According to New South Wales Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin, the value of crops may drop by up to $1 million if baits and traps fail to work.
Mr Martin added that some farmers were abandoning some paddocks and couldn’t defer sowing winter crops any longer, Mail Online reports.
In a bid to halt the crisis, the NSW government announced a $50 million assistance package last week, but Mr Martin says this isn’t helping.
“The state government’s assistance package is impractical, dysfunctional and weeks away, which is not helping farmers who need support right now to drive mouse numbers down and break this horrible unrelenting cycle,” he said.
“After more than eight months of battling growing mouse numbers farmers are still waiting for state government assistance to hit the ground and offer some practical support to our farming community.”
The worst-hit areas have been the Northern Tablelands, Central West and New England regions of NSW, but there are fears the plague could reach even Sydney in coming months.
Researchers even warned that “without a concerted baiting effort in the next few weeks this could easily turn into a two-year plague event”.
Farmers previously told of the ground appearing to “move” with masses of the critters as they filmed hordes of thousands of mice running around just metres from their homes.
Farmer Ron Mckay told the ABC: “At night… the ground is just moving with thousands and thousands of mice just running around.”
Last week the NSW government said it had secured 5,000 litres of the super-deadly rodent poison bromadiolone.
This amount is enough to treat about 95 tonnes of grain, but some farmers are concerned about the poison’s possible effect on farm dogs and other animals.
Mr Martin said: “NSW Farmers has consistently said the simplest, safest and most timely way for the state government to assist farmers would be through providing rebates of up to $25,000 per farm business to cover 50% of the cost of zinc phosphide bait.”
He added: “’This mouse plague will be a significant financial hit to the NSW economy, as it is not just about the grain crop, and food production, but also all the regional businesses, traders and employees that rely on the farming sector.
“The NSW grains industry alone employs more than 10,000 people in regional areas.
“Each day we delay in taking effective action to control these mice will increase economic losses and the likelihood we will still be battling mice come Christmas time.”