A NSW farmer has demonstrated the dramatic lengths he’s gone to to tackle the ongoing mouse plague.
The mice have wreaked havoc from Central Queensland down to northern and central west NSW and into western Victoria, feeding on crops and produce while causing millions of dollars in damages.
TikToker Andrew Jones, from NSW, uploaded video of how he’s dealing with the problem by dropping mice into a burning barrel.
Video from the popular app shows the rodents, which appear to be alive, being dropped from what appears to be a grain conveyor into the fire.
Some of them manage to scurry away however most are trapped inside the drum.
'Give me a humane way'
His method has divided people.
“I feel like there is a better way to do this,” one man wrote.
Another man called it “cruel” while others referred to it as “inhumane”.
“Definitely could have been done more humanely,” another man wrote.
But Mr Jones responded questioning if there was a better method for ridding his farm of the mice.
“So baiting them is humane?” he wrote.
“They die slowly over time? Drowning them is humane? Give me a humane way to kill them and I’ll do it.”
Mouse plague leads to more headaches
So far a number of possible solutions have been flagged and tried but many of them have proved problematic.
The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) last week revealed the poison being used to kill the mice has resulted in the deaths of native birds in western parts of the state, the ABC reported.
There have also been reports farmers have used poison to kill the mice but unfortunately lost farmyard dogs to it.
Tamworth farmer Mark Walters lost his dog Occy just before Christmas.
Animal rights group PETA has suggested catch and release is the best way to deal with the issue.
But since the situation has become so dire, PETA even admits a lethal response is necessary as long “it’s only ethical to do so as painless as possible”.
Edith Cowan University’s Dr Robert Davis said the only way to kill the mice might be a change in the weather.
NSW Government invests in biocontrol
The government is also investing in breakthrough genetic biocontrol research that could transform pest management in Australia.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the NSW government would provide $1.8 million to the project to fast-track the delivery of next generation 'gene drive' technology to control future plagues.
"The government has invested $50 million in a range of support measures, not only to mitigate the impacts of the mice currently crawling across so much of NSW, but also to create options to ensure we reduce the impact of future population spikes," he said on Thursday.
Until now farmers have had to rely on baiting and trapping to control mouse infestations but the government was now "fast-tracking critical research to bring mouse control into the 21st century", he said.
The three-year program of genetic biocontrol research will identify fast acting gene drives which are designed to spread an inherited characteristic through a population at higher-than-normal rates.
Mr Marshall said it would also investigate the transferability of the technology to other pest species such as black rats, rabbits and feral cats using advanced computer modelling.
"Using targeted gene drives, scientists aim to interrupt the breeding cycle of mice and keep populations at manageable levels," he said.
"There has to be a better way. That's why we're backing science to deliver a solution."
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