‘Ominous signs’: Australian farmers brace for return of mouse plague as infestations surge
Australian farmers are bracing for another mouse plague with grain growers already noticing “ominous signs” of infestations in paddocks across NSW and Queensland.
The mouse plague last autumn caused up to $100 million worth of damage, with some farmers losing as much as $300,000 in ruined crops.
While mouse populations dwindled over the winter, NSW Farmers vice president Xavier Martin warned the rodents were already starting to make a comeback.
“That reprieve was there, however we’re noticing many of the little fellas worked out they should just stack up their winter pantry … and unfortunately we’re in a situation in many parts of the landscape now where the population’s active holes are greater in numbers than they were this time last year,” he told 2GB Radio on Saturday morning.
“We’re already starting to hear about some ominous signs around many of the paddocks and fields.
“Seeds are filling and maturing and that’s a signal to the mice that they’ve got a food source and away they go and breed.
“They have their 10 pups every 20 days and when you do the maths, we’ve got ourselves a plague.”
The grain grower from Gunnedah said many of the farmers affected by last season’s plague were still recovering, and fresh infestations could be a further blow to their finances.
“There are ongoing burdens and ongoing costs for many farmers,” Mr Martin said.
“A lot of that produce is still trying to be delivered and a lot of it is contaminated due to mouse droppings … it’s not even suitable for animal feed consumption.”
Mr Martin said some farmers had started using bait cards to assess the level of mice activity, while supply stores had already begun stocking up on mouse killer.
“We’ve heard about various paddocks in various parts of the northern grain belt in NSW and southern Queensland already being treated,” he said.
“As the crops ripen moving south into Victoria there will no doubt be more monitoring and baiting.”
NSW Farmers Association has been contacted for comment.
Originally published as ‘Ominous signs’: Australian farmers brace for return of mouse plague as infestations surge
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