A quick recap of the literal plague that’s occurring in Australia right now (no, not COVID, the other one): An infestation of mice (a figure in the millions) are overwhelming regional New South Wales.
According to The Australian, these rodents are on track to cause up to $100 million worth in damages while The Guardian reports that some farmers are reporting that 800 hectares of crops being wiped out because of mice.
Last week, the NSW government announced a $50 million support package for the mouse plague, offering a $500 rebate for eligible households, a $1,000 rebate for eligible small businesses, and free mice bait (grain treatment) for farmers.
Now, global animal rights organisation, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has waded into the conversation, pleading farmers not to kill the mice, as rodents should not be denied their “right” to food.
News.com.au, who broke the news, called the comments “bizarre” — PETA claims that the “bright, curious” mice are just looking for food to survive, and “shouldn’t be robbed of this right because of the dangerous notion of human supremacy.”
The method that the organisation suggests is “humane traps” that would allow the mice to be “caught gently and released unharmed.”
The comments drew immediate backlash from several government officials, as well as experts. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he would not entertain PETA’s “ridiculous concerns” as “mice are pests. They are destroying crops and farming businesses, and the mental angst they are causing families is real.”
Mouse expert Steve Henry, who works for CSIRO, says that there was little that people could do to stop mice, other than use poison to kill them.
Farmer Graham Jones, who spoke to The Guardian, says that although the mice are just trying to survive, “we have them in plague proportions and we just have to get rid of them.”