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Community & Business

2 March, 2021

Mice plague causes shortages in bait and traps

As the mice plague continues, causing large amounts of damage in areas such as Gulargambone and Armatree, preventative measures are in short supply.

By Telden Nelson

Rohr’s Home Timber and Hardware in Gilgandra have had their first week with no traps and bait available as homeowners and businesses attempt to stem the four-legged tide. Manager Chris Riley said that demand has been high.

“What we’re seeing is a huge buy up of mouse bait and traps. There are plenty of mice running around in sheds and things like that,” said Mr Riley.

“Because of the increased demand there have been massive shortages of traps and mouse bait as well. earlier this month we had our first week of not being able to buy traps and poison at all.”

Mr Riley said signs of mouse damage to stock at the Gilgandra location were minimal, but the Gulargambone store was not so lucky.

“Damage in stock feed and pet food is all we’ve had here, and it’s been minor. In Gulargambone we had major issues, to the point that we had to take anything they ate and bring it back to Gilgandra. That was pallets of dog food, potting mixture, stock feed, toilet paper, everything.

“There’s only three ways to get rid of them, a flood, a cold snap or they start eating each other. A couple of farmers out at Gulargambone have said they’ve started eating each other.”

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have urged growers to take a hostile approach to controlling their mice populations. They have advised that limiting competition for bait by eliminating alternative food sources is the pivotal mouse management strategy available to growers who are dealing with a worsening mice situation. Lead mice researcher from the CSIRO, Steve Henry, stressed the importance of increasing the odds of mice encountering and consuming lethal doses of bait.

“If mice are hungry, they are more likely to eat a lethal dose. You get a much better result if the rate of bait encounter is increased by having less residual food in paddocks, and the likelihood of bait aversion through ingestion of a sub-lethal dose is reduced,” said Mr Henry.

Mr Henry said that if conditions are right and mice have sources of food, shelter and water, their population can increase dramatically. Mice start breeding as young as six-weeks-old and have litters of six to 10 pups, with a gestation period of 19 to 21 days. It is recommended that growers bait six weeks before sowing if mouse numbers are high.

“If you still have mice at sowing, put the bait out off the back of the seeder. You will get the primary bang for your buck baiting at sowing, especially if the bait goes on freshly disturbed soil after the last presswheel.”

Mr Henry said close monitoring after each bait application was critical, and it was important that growers actively and thoroughly monitored their paddocks for mice.

“Go for a walk through your stubbles and look for signs of activity. And be prepared to bait – talk to your bait suppliers early.”

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