Mouse plague hits Australian farmers after heavy rains follow drought.

Australian farmer Norman Moeris lifts a protective tarpaulin covering his valuable grain harvest on a cool evening – only to reveal a seething mass of rodents.

Moeris is among thousands of farmers in parts of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria states dealing with an infestation of mice that have ravaged crops, gnawed through farming equipment and household appliances, caused power blackouts and invaded supermarkets.

“This grain here, the mice have just totally ruined it. [We’ll] probably just dig a hole and bury the lot of it,” Moeris said. “Not worth feeding to the livestock in case you kill them.”

For Moeris and other farmers, the timing of the plague is heartbreaking, caused by heavy rains in recent months that had relieved the country’s worst drought in years.

The wet weather not only helped produce Australia’s largest-ever grain crop, but also provided ample food for the mice, fuelling their fast reproductive cycle.

Moeris grows wheat, barley, oats, chickpeas and broad beans, and rears 900 merino sheep on 2,800 acres on his farm near Gilgandra, 430km northwest of Sydney.

The 65-year-old said he has lost $130,000 (€82,000) worth of grain due to the mouse plague, following the loss of about 2,100 sheep during the three-year drought, and there’s little he can do.

Despite perimeter baiting around paddocks and laying traps and water buckets around the house, the mice just keep coming.

“It’s just hard, after the drought, that’s the biggest trouble,” said Moeris. “We’ve been on our knees, we got up a bit, now we’re back on our knees with the mice.”

The New South Wales state government earlier this month offered farmers free bait to eradicate the rodents, but has so far resisted calls from some to allow the use of bromadiolone, a poison currently banned in Australia. Some farmers and environmentalists have warned of the unintended consequences to native animals from its use.

Moeris has no option but to press on.

“What do you do? Do it again next spring, hopefully to God it all comes off,” he said. “We’ll do it again, the mice will come back again in another couple of years’ time and we’ll probably do it all again. That’s Australian life.” – Reuters

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Chinese Rover on Mars Ushers in New Space Race

Chinese Rover on Mars Ushers in New Space Race

Increased competition will push scientists to explore more, US space expert says #mars #spaceexploration #China #UnitedStates

Sky News Breakfast: G7, Brexit and June 21 delay?

Sky News Breakfast: G7, Brexit and June 21 delay?

On Sky News Breakfast with Stephen Dixon: - The PM is expected to agree to the delay of lockdown easing in England pencilled in for 21 June - Brexit tensions continue in Cornwall as the Irish PM tells Sky News Boris Johnson must not ignore the Nor...

Irish PM optimistic solution can be found to NI Protocol row.

Irish PM optimistic solution can be found to NI Protocol row.

Ireland's Prime Minister, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, has told Sky News there is "a route" to resolving tensions over the Brexit Protocol following US President Joe Biden's intervention. He urged Boris Johnson to "very seriously consider" a veterina...

Gordon Brown: G7 summit will go down as 'missed opportunity'.

Gordon Brown: G7 summit will go down as 'missed opportunity'.

Gordon Brown says he thinks this G7 summit will go down as a "missed opportunity" - with not enough committed to vaccinating the world, describing it as a "unforgivable moral failure". The former prime minister says there is no "comprehensive plan...

Labour frontbencher urges lockdown easing delay

Labour frontbencher urges lockdown easing delay

Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry says the scientific evidence is clear and "we can't have a lifting of lockdown at the moment". Ms Thornberry says India should have been put on the red list much sooner, but accuses Boris Johns...

Raab accuses EU of ‘lopsided approach’ to NI Brexit protocol.

Raab accuses EU of ‘lopsided approach’ to NI Brexit protocol.

The foreign secretary Dominic Raab says there has been a "very lopsided approach" to the Northern Ireland Protocol from Brussels. Mr Raab says the EU is not sticking to what was agreed between the two sides and has called for "a bit of respect" fr...