Farmer Cole Ding and his grandson use an advanced method to drown catastrophic rats on June 1, 2021 in Tabo, Eastern Australia (AFP / Saeed KHAN)
After years of drought, farmers in Eastern Australia have been facing rats devouring their crops for months.
A farmer named Cole Ding, near Dow, a small remote town in New South Wales, is fitted with a broom that chases hundreds of rats into a large watt, in which they drown.
This time he is the only one to prevent this agony from hitting so many farms east of the vast island-continent.
But so far his efforts have not been fruitful. Mice regularly feed on its grain and hay stocks, and they do not prey on any edible material.
In the gruesome videos that have toured the world, thousands of rats gather in barns, homes, and move exponentially in crowds.
It is the latest disaster to hit Australian farmers in the wake of years of drought, several months of wildfires in late 2019 and subsequent flooding.
“My dad is still alive, he’s 93, which is the worst three years of his life. I think it’s the worst mouse invasion on record,” Catman Ding said.
Rats at Cole Ding’s Farm (AFP / Saeed KHAN) on June 1, 2021 in Dubo, East Australia
He fears that this misery will continue into the southern winter, which begins in June.
“If we don’t have a very cold and humid winter, I’m a little worried about what will happen in the spring,” said the 65-year-old AFP.
Steve Henry, a researcher at CSIRO, the Center for Public Scientific Research, is still hopeless.
“When such an invasion of rats ends, they will disappear overnight, which we no longer see,” says Henry, an insect expert for nearly three decades.
The rats landed in Australia with the first British settlers.
AFP / Saeed KHAN (AFP / Saeed KHAN) on the stockpile of wheat at Col Ding’s farm in Dubo, East Australia on June 1, 2021
This little rodent is linked to the climate, with good and bad performance of Australian agriculture. So this misery happens often, but this year it has reached new heights.
– “A dangerous slope” –
This year’s numbers are “simply astronomical,” says Terry Fishpool, 74, a grain farmer at NSW, Tottenham.
Aph / Saeed KHAN (AFP / Saeed KHAN) on a farm trap on June 2, 2021 in Tottenham, Eastern Australia
The highest number of rodents was reported in October alone, and after a bumper harvest, after a severe drought, they were allowed to multiply.
Bill Batman, an associate professor at Curtin University in Western Australia, estimates that so far these mouse invasions have occurred only once a decade, but that climate change may be the most common.
“If we don’t have a harsh winter anymore, the rats will have enough to survive all year, so it will become chronic,” says Batman.
Faced with this agony, the Australian government has announced a multi-million dollar aid program and developed a powerful pesticide, promethazine, which has not yet been approved by authorities.
But this antifreeze, which acts faster and more efficiently than the pesticides that are so prevalent so far, has the disadvantage of staying longer in the body of dead or dying mice.
So experts fear it will kill the animal as well, and then it will eat the poisoned rats.
“The use of this second-generation rodent control product is very worrying,” said Batman of the School of Molecular and Life Sciences.
“This is 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.
“In the future we’re really going to get ourselves in trouble, not only by destroying our biodiversity, but also by destroying our defenses against future mouse invasion.”
A mouse trap on a farm in Tottenham, Eastern Australia on June 2, 2021 (AFP / Saeed KHAN)
According to Henry, pesticides, traps and previously used methods can help reduce the number of rats if the number of rats continues to increase after the winter.
According to him the priority is to find long-term solutions, including the causes of this “biggest” scourge.
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