Desmond Bellamy, PETA Australia, Byron Bay
There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from politicians about PETA’s very reasonable observation that the ‘mouse plague’ is a complex and long-term problem that should be addressed through systematic strategies to introduce methods of breeding control. Dropping poisons, which will be picked up by native animals, dogs and possibly human children and will end up in water supplies is a myopic and fatuous way to make it look like something is happening, without ever addressing the issue.
Mice probably came to Australia with the First Fleet, with mitochondrial DNA analyses showing a strong link to the UK mouse. We can hardly blame them for thriving, with infestations being reported for the last 150 years, starting with a ‘mouse plague’ in Murrurundi in 1871. The most destructive case, in 1993, caused an estimated $96 million worth of damage. Yet the government has done little in all those years to find a systemic solution, other than handing out extremely toxic and horribly cruel poisons. The NSW government, for example, has boasted that it will poison bags of grains and hand them out with no paperwork. What could go wrong?
PETA urges everyone to remember that mice feel pain and fear, just as dogs, cats, and farmers do. The use of gut-wrenching poisons that cause slow, agonising deaths to mice, or other animals who eat the poison or its professed target, is no substitute for investing in solid science.