Mouse plague eradication practices could impact native birds as residents bait homes
Colin Hickey loves watching magpies in his backyard in southern NSW, but lately their twittering has literally died out.
- Corowa resident believes five magpies in his yard may have died from mouse poisoning
- CSIRO is looking at studies around the world on alternative poisoning methods
- Residents must report incidents where other animals are poisoned
Last week Mr Hickey found five dead magpies in his Corowa yard.
“This is extremely unusual. I mean the maggies are [usually] very healthy, ”he says.
“I’m a wildlife man, I’m a retiree, I just sit and watch my maggies. They keep me entertained.”
He also found magpies that behaved in unusual ways or appeared sick, including a magpie sitting on a bucket under a faucet eager for a drink.
“He was tame enough for my son to come over and stroke him,” Mr. Hickey said.
“He made a big poo that was green and flew away, and I haven’t seen him since.
Mr Hickey believed the sick and dead magpies could be linked to the poison used by residents amid the mouse plague that swarmed in parts of the country.
Mice are starting to increase in Corowa, with Mr. Hickey having caught five at his home last week.
He would like to see other methods implemented to manage mice.
“I don’t know the answer. Plague of mice is a problem, but there is another way to attack it besides poison.”
Poison in the food chain
CSIRO Rodent Management Research Team Leader Dr Peter Brown said anti-coagulant mouse bait was most commonly used in Australia and was the main form of bait sold in retail stores and used by commercial pest control.
“So depending on the type of bait used, there can be different impacts on other wildlife.”
Dr Brown said colleagues around the world are looking for alternative methods to kill mice without the risk of untargeted or secondary poisoning, including at the Danish pest infestation laboratory.
But finding the perfect poison is proving difficult.
He said studies in Europe have also shown some genetic resistance emerging in rodent populations to anticoagulant rodenticides.
“It’s happening everywhere. I’m just thankful that we have a team.”
Residents must report poisoning
The NSW Environmental Protection Agency said it had yet to receive specific reports of animal deaths associated with mouse baits.
The community is encouraged to report to the EPA’s 24-hour environmental line at 131,555.
All reports received are followed up.