Mice plague: Australian farmers warned about growing animal population

Australians in almost all states have been told to brace for another potential mouse plague with experts sounding the alarm.

Australian mice experts are warning farmers to stay vigilant against rising animal numbers across the country, with another potential plague on the horizon.

Last year, rodents spread across regional communities costing NSW grain growers more than $1 billion in damage, according to some estimates.

Twitter account MouseAlert has identified growing populations in Central Queensland, the Southern Riverina in NSW, the Northern Valley in Victoria, the York Peninsula in South Australia and Western Australia.

CSIRO mice expert Steve Henry said farmers were aware of the dangers of a mouse plague but should be proactive to stop another disaster this year.

“The outbreak had such an impact on people that they really don‘t want them to come back, so they’re being really vigilant about them,” Mr Henry told Nine.

A wet start to the year has seen summer crops harvested late and there are early reports that abundant feed has fuelled a bumper autumn breeding season.

“But if you get a low level of winter survival, then when they start breeding next spring they start from a much lower population base and the rate of increase is slower,” Mr Henry said.

NSW Farmers are reminding farmers to use chew cards on their property to monitor rodent activity, available at the Grains Research & Development Corporation website.

“What we don‘t want to see is a repeat of last year’s mouse plague, so please if you see something, say something,” NSW Farmers Vice president Xavier Martin said earlier in the week.

CSIRO researchers have found in a laboratory study that mice were able to survive eating bait that should have delivered a lethal blow.

The study results arrived just as the mouse plague started to gain momentum last year and caused concern that current baiting measures are inadequate for controlling a plague.

“They were living to tell the story and we thought well what‘s going on?” Mr Henry said.

An emergency use permit for double strength Zinc Phosphide bait at 50 grams per kilogram was introduced and remains the preferred mice baiting option for farmers.

Originally published as Experts are warning farmers to prepare for a second mice plague

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