You may have seen on the networks, his nightmarish videos where we see thousands of mice crawling in barns, dwellings and moving in hordes at high speed.

The images were shot in Australia.

After several years of drought, months of devastating forest fires in late 2019 and subsequent flooding, farmers in the eastern part of the country are now facing a plague of mice that devour their crops and face them. completely helpless.

“My dad is still alive, he's 93, and it's the worst three years of his life.

I think this is probably the worst mouse invasion on record, ”said Col Tink, a cattle farmer near Dubbo, a small remote town in New South Wales.

He fears that this scourge will last during the southern winter, which begins in June.

“If we don't have a really cold and wet winter, I'm a little worried about what's going to happen in the spring,” said the 65-year-old.

Landed in Australia with the first British settlers

Steve Henry, a researcher at CSIRO, the public scientific research center, is hardly more optimistic.

“When such an invasion of mice ends, they disappear overnight and that's not what we're seeing now,” says Steve Henry, a pest specialist for nearly three decades.

Mouse invasion in Australia😶😯🐭

- Mimi (@Ours_sud) April 13, 2021

Mice landed in Australia with the first British settlers.

This tiny rodent adapts perfectly to the good and bad performances of Australian agriculture, linked to the climate.

This scourge is therefore frequent, but this year it has reached new heights.

Climate change could make this phenomenon more frequent

This year the numbers are "simply astronomical," according to Terry Fishpool, 74, a grain farmer from Tottenham, NSW.

Large numbers of rodents were reported as early as October and a bumper harvest, after the worst drought on record, allowed them to proliferate.

Bill Bateman, associate professor at Curtin University in Western Australia, estimates that so far these mouse invasions have only happened once a decade, but climate change may make it more common.

"If we don't have harsh winters anymore, the mice will have enough to survive all year round, so it will become chronic," says Bill Bateman.

The solution: a pesticide dangerous for the environment ...

Faced with this scourge, the Australian government has announced a multi-million dollar aid plan and developed a powerful pesticide, bromadiolone, which has yet to be approved by authorities. But this anti-coagulant, which acts more quickly and effectively than pesticides hitherto widespread, has the disadvantage of staying longer in the body of dead or dying mice.

Experts therefore fear that it will also kill the animals which will then eat the poisoned mice. "The use of this second generation rodent control product is extremely worrying," said Bill Bateman of the School of Molecular and Life Sciences. "It's a dangerous slope" and its long term use and stay in the environment. By killing natural predators, it could poison humans through the food chain, he said.

"We are really going to get ourselves into trouble in the future, not only by destroying our biodiversity, but also by destroying our defenses against any future mouse invasion."

For Steve Henry, the use of insecticides, traps and methods previously used could help reduce the number of mice if their population continues to increase after winter.

For him the priority is therefore to seek long-term solutions, including the causes of this "huge" scourge.


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