Walgett, Come By Chance and other NSW communities impacted by mice plague | Photos

IT'S an issue that often follows a good winter harvest but sheds and paddocks across the state carry the stench of an ongoing mice plague.

Spurred on by ideal breeding conditions, hundreds of thousands of mice are wreaking havoc on communities across the state's North West and Western regions.

In the process, the pests are racking up an ever-growing damage bill for farmers, some of which are still recovering from years of prolonged drought.

Walgett producer Helen Weber said she was already feeling the economic impacts of the pests on her family's property Fairlands.

"At this stage, I would estimate baiting and actively trying to stop the mice has cost us thousands of dollars and there is a long way to go yet," Mrs Weber told The Land.

"Ultimately lifting the food source, hay and grain, should help to stop the breeding but we are a long way off that happening yet.

"It won't be too long before people really start to feel it in the hip pocket because the discount some people could be taking on grain could be $30 to $40 a tonne because they have had to sell earlier than planned.

"That's not to mention the potentially thousands of dollars worth of damage the mice could do to machinery because they love to chew the wires to sharpen their teeth and it only takes one to ruin the wiring of your machinery, which is often very expensive to repair."

Despite most areas west of the Great Dividing Range feeling the impacts of the pest, properties in the state's West and North West such as Warren, Coonamble and Moree have been among the worst affected, prompting Mrs Weber to call for a "uniformed approach".

"There hasn't been a lot said by our Local Land Services (LLS), which I would have thought would have been the first port of call for a plague of this magnitude," she said.

"However, I think it should be a regional approach and be a more comprehensive approach, such as what is happening with the baiting of wild dogs.

"When we get to winter sowing, do we really want to be aerial baiting with our crops going in?

"It's not ideal and just makes the process just that little bit more difficult than it needs to be."

Currently, LLS is offering pest management assistance to landholders as well as bait rebates, The Land contacted NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall to clarify what other assistance was on offer but he couldn't be reached.

The calls have been echoed by Mrs Weber's husband Greg, who said it was unclear what it would take to solve the issue.

"It's like a drought created by mice," Mr Weber said.

"I think it will get cold enough to take care of them, but we are a while off the cold weather.

"We would probably need an unseasonal cold snap and a deluge of rain so we could start to get on top of them."

Come By Chance farmer Mike O'Brien said while he didn't "know how we compare in comparison to everyone around us", he hoped the worst of the plague was over.

"It's not as bad as it was say three or four weeks ago," Mr O'Brien said.

"However, when it was at its worst, it was easily the worst I've seen out here at Come By Chance.

"It's a bit of a first from what I've seen on this kind of black-soil country.

"To me, I think it has been caused by a combination of a sizeable harvest last year and the really hot summers we've had over the past six or seven years.

"Due to it being so hot, the mice weren't able to breed in the numbers they are now but now the conditions do suit them, it's created a bit of a perfect storm."

Parkes MP Mark Coulton has heard from several landholders from across the state regarding the mice plague.

Parkes MP Mark Coulton has heard from several landholders from across the state regarding the mice plague.

Parkes MP Mark Coulton, whose electorate is home to some of the worst-affected regions, said there was help on offer to producers battling the pests.

"We've got them at my place in Warialda and while it isn't as bad as it is in places like Coonamble and Collarenebri, it's bad enough," Mr Coulton said.

"While the management of pest animals is primarily a responsibility for the relevant state government, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), does have a role in approving emergency use permits.

"The APVMA can issue permits to allow the use of different chemicals for those looking to bait but they need to be obtained through the LLS, so my advice to people trying to tackle this issue to chat with them about the available options."

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This story 'Drought created by mice': plague toll continues to rise first appeared on The Land.