Australia mouse plague: ‘Napalm’ will not be used to tackle rodents over wider wildlife concerns

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Mouse plague already lasting nine months is thought to have caused $1bn of damage (Reuters)
Mouse plague already lasting nine months is thought to have caused $1bn of damage (Reuters)

Despite fears Australia’s months-long mouse plague has already caused over $1bn in losses, deploying poison dubbed “napalm for mice” is not a solution, a government agency has said.

Last month the New South Wales government made an urgent application to use the controversial poison bromadiolone in the continuing battle against the millions of mice causing widespread agricultural devastation, and impacting people in the state.

But the application has been rejected by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which it said was due to safety and environmental concerns.

The array of poisons already used to eradicate the biblical tides of mice – an invasive species in Australia – have already harmed native species, including birds such as galahs and pigeons, as well as fish.

The use of more powerful poisons has raised concerns over the build up of toxins in the food chain, which could impact humans.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the state government had sought approval for the controversial poison as part of a $50m effort to help rid farmers of the mice.

“It’ll be the equivalent of napalming mice across rural NSW,” he said last month.

Responding to the APVMA’s ruling, Mr Marshall said he was “disappointed”, but would respect the decision.

APVMA chief executive Lisa Croft said. “Before the APVMA is able to approve any application, we must be certain that it is safe, that it will work, and that it will not prevent our farmers from selling their produce overseas,"

“The APVMA’s primary concern is environmental safety, particularly in relation to animals that eat mice.

“Although the APVMA intends to refuse this particular application, we have approved six other emergency applications to give farmers extra mouse control options,” she said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The mouse explosion, which started nine months ago, has been driven by a long dry run of years followed by spells of wet weather which have provided ample food for them, fuelling their fast reproductive cycle.

This week the mice caused the evacuation of 420 prisoners from a jail in New South Wales, after thousands of mice chewed through ceilings and wiring, cutting out electricity and causing appalling smells after their dead bodies began rotting in wall cavities.

Mice have only been in Australia for around 250 years – brought by British ships – but have since gone on to multiply and multiply due to the lack of natural predators and an enormous boom in farming during the 20th century.

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