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Mouse plague spreads, farmers warned not to bet on winter ending outbreak

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Stunning imaginative and prescient emerged from the mouse plague in New South Wales this 12 months and, whereas the risk has plateaued in some areas, numbers are reportedly on the rise in parts of Victoria, southern NSW, southern Queensland and into South Australia.

Julian Cross has been battling the pests for months at his farm close to Kumbia in Queensland and mentioned a second wave of mice had emerged at Easter time.

“We have had a number of previously however by no means to this extent and it is ongoing,” he mentioned. 

“They only bar into the cobs and chew on the corn and on the mung beans — they nibble on the pods and the pod dies. 

Area to play or pause, M to mute, left and proper arrows to hunt, up and down arrows for quantity.
Norman Moeris’s Gilgandra property has been overrun by mice.(Equipped: Norman Moeris)

Winter change

As winter approaches, farmers like Mr Cross are hoping the colder climate will begin placing a dent within the mice inhabitants.

“We’re hoping if we will clear the meals supply up a bit and get chilly winter, which may regular their gallop,” he mentioned. 

CSIRO researcher Steve Henry mentioned farmers needed to keep vigilant and mustn’t depend on the climate to finish the plague.

“Mice are digging fairly intensive burrow networks out in paddocks and it is fairly straightforward for them to get away from these nasty weather conditions and proceed to thrive if there’s loads of meals within the system.

“What is going to occur in the course of the winter is that breeding will decelerate … and mice go into self-preservation mode to get via winter in order that they’re nonetheless there in spring.”

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Farmers warned of ‘dodgy curry’ impact

Mr Henry recommends farmers work collectively when it comes to baiting applications, bait as much as six weeks out from sowing a crop “and proceed to observe after that, and be ready to bait mice as they sow”.

“So get out of the ute, go for a stroll within the paddock,” he mentioned.

A field with sandy soil and barley stubble, dotted with mouse holes.
Mice burrow underground to eat the seed throughout sowing.(Equipped: Wayne Niejalke.)

Mr Henry mentioned it was additionally necessary farmers guarantee a spot between the preliminary baiting interval.

“If mice get a sub-lethal dose they principally cease taking it right away,” he mentioned.

“Certainly one of my colleagues calls it ‘the dodgy-curry impact’.

Crops getting ‘hammered’

Agribusiness firm Elders took to social media this week, asking farmers to call the most important pest they’ve been coping with this autumn — the reply was mice.

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Agronomist Mikaela Meers mentioned whereas mice numbers had eased off in her area of Coonamble NSW, she was conscious of crops “getting hammered” in southern areas corresponding to Deniliquin and Hay.

“They’re stepping into cotton crops and stepping into rice paddies,” she mentioned.

“They will solely do perimeter baiting nevertheless it’s simply not conserving them out.”

Ms Meers mentioned growers within the area have been pinning their hopes on cooler climate slowing the rodents down and taking “the strain off”.

“However in saying that, the primary concern is the quantity of hay and straw we’ve below sheds,” she mentioned.

“They’re breeding up in there and we’re simply by no means going to kill the inhabitants.

Watch this story on ABC TV’s Landine at 12:30pm on Sunday, or on ABC iview.