Animal activist group PETA are pleading with farmers to spare the lives of mice causing catastrophic damage in rural NSW and parts of southern Queensland.
Farmers and people in regional towns have been struggling since last year with a mouse plague that’s continued unabated, ruining crops, damaging tonnes of stored hay and grain, infiltrating homes and tank water and causing millions of dollars of damage.
But PETA is arguing the mice should not be denied their right to food because of the “dangerous notion of human supremacy”, saying the government should provide a humane solution that allows the rodents to be trapped humanely before being released.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was hard to see “the devastation and heartbreak” recently experienced by NSW farmers.
“It’s just one thing after another … and apart from the comments being very insensitive to the plight of those farmers … it’s pretty dopey,” he said.
Last week, the NSW government responded to farmers’ pleas for help with a $50 million relief package that includes rebates and a promise to chemically treat grain to protect against the vermin.
The NSW government said on Thursday it had secured 5000 litres of the anti-coagulant bromadiolone – enough to treat about 95 tonnes of grain – and would provide it for free once federal authorities approve its use.
The chemical is able to kill mice within 24 hours of its consumption.
The measure forms part of a $50 million government package announced last week to help farmers and regional towns suppress mice numbers.
“By securing a local supply of the chemical we ensure the NSW government is ready to roll – no waiting for overseas shipments, no immediate supply issues,” NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said in a statement.
“Experts will treat growers’ grain with bromadiolone completely free of charge to build a mice-free fortress to protect paddocks.”
Mr Marshall said the chemical should be used in conjunction with baiting.
The poison is yet to be approved for use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.