Farmers urged to monitor mouse numbers

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Farmers urged to keep eye on signs of mouse activity

Farmers urged to monitor mouse numbers
The GRDC has a range of tools and information on its website to help with mouse management

The government’s Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) has warned farmers that they should act early to control mouse populations after last year’s outbreak caused significant damage to crops and stores.

The GRDC has invested in a number of CSIRO’s mouse management research projects, including the grower workshops on mouse management that were conducted in Western Australia earlier this year.

Steve Henry, mouse researcher from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO says that while there’s been a reported increase in mouse activity across the regions, the presence of mice seems to be dependent on paddock history and the availability of food and shelter.

"Mouse numbers are patchy in most parts of the country, however there are widespread reports of high mouse activity in Western Australia," he says.

"A lot of regions in the north have reported mice sightings but recent, widespread rain will help drive those numbers down."

Henry says that with expected high prices for winter crops this season, it is more important than ever that growers take early action to control mice and protect high value crops.

"Demand for canola is high, seed is in short supply, and strong prices are predicted so we want to prevent growers from having to re-sow their crops due to mouse damage," he said.

"If mice are present, farmers should bait with 50 grams per kilogram of zinc phosphide [ZnP].

"This will help push numbers down over winter to ensure mice start breeding from a lower population base next spring."

Henry says the most effective way for growers to gauge mouse numbers at this time of year was to walk through paddocks and look for active burrows.

"After last year’s season there are lots of big stubbles which can easily hide the signs of mouse activity.

"Burrows can be patchy in their distribution, so growers should walk through different parts of the paddock and look for signs of mice."

GRDC pests manager Dr Leigh Nelson says she understands an increase in mouse activity would have growers wary after last year’s outbreak impacted grain communities financially and mentally.

"GRDC continues to provide up-to-date information and resources to growers to help them react to an increase in mouse activity," she says.

"Our priority is working with growers and communities to identify mouse activity and implement effective management strategies to prevent damage to their enterprises."

GRDC has produced mouse chew cards to measure activity in a paddock. These can be downloaded along with more information about mouse control from https://grdc.com.au.

Farmers are also encouraged to report and map regional mouse activity using the www.feralscan.org.au/mousealert website.

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