Mice plague hits Australia, farmers pin hope on banned poison from India

Thousands of the tiny rodents are swarming in the rural communities of New South Wales in Australia, leading to the worst outbreak of plague in decades. Several videos posted on social media showed carpets of mice scurrying across barn floors, crowded around machinery, and entering thick grain silos made of steel as farmers struggled to control the rodents.

The mice have also entered homes, inside containers and finding their way into water tanks, footage posted by local media channels showed. According to the local reports, they also bit farmers and patients in the hospital while they were asleep.

Farmers’ nightmare

The crisis has prompted the New South Wales government to order 5000 litres of the banned poison Bromadiolone from India. “It’s actually the strongest mouse poison we can get anywhere on the face of the earth that actually will kill these things within 24 hours,” said Adam Marshall, the state’s agriculture minister.

The state government has also released $50 million ($39 million) in funding to tackle the infestation, which is gradually spreading to Queensland state. However, the order is yet to receive approval from the federal government over concerns that the potent pesticide may also kill other animals and family pets.

According to an AP report, the infestation is contaminating sorghum exports with animal droppings, causing quality downgrades and leading to cancelled shipments of the grain. The mice woes come as farmers in Australia’s most populous state have already been hit by fires, floods and pandemic disruptions in recent years.

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Despite, government’s intensive baiting programmes, it had little to no success against the infestation. Locals are hoping for heavy rain to drown the mice in their burrows.

Plagues seemingly appear from nowhere and often vanish just as fast. Disease and a shortage of food are thought to trigger a dramatic population crash as mice feed on themselves, devouring the sick, weak and their own offspring.

(With agency inputs)

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