The Prime Minister has ridiculed a plea from animal activist group PETA to spare the lives of mice causing catastrophic damage in rural NSW and parts of southern Queensland.
Farmers and people in regional towns have been struggling since last year with a mouse plague that has continued unabated, ruining crops, damaging tonnes of stored hay and grain, infiltrating homes and tank water and causing millions of dollars of damage.
But PETA is arguing the mice should not be denied their right to food because of the “dangerous notion of human supremacy”, saying the government should provide a humane solution that allows the rodents to be trapped humanely before being released.
PETA’s Aleesha Naxakis told Sydney radio 2GB “we are not anti-farmer” but said she objected to mice being poisoned.
Ms Naxakis told Melbourne radio 3AW mass poisoning of the mice will leave hundreds of thousands of rodents to unnecessary, gruesome deaths.
“It’s so unfair these mice are going to suffer these horrible deaths,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was hard to see “the devastation and heartbreak” recently experienced by NSW farmers.
“It’s just one thing after another … and apart from the comments being very insensitive to the plight of those farmers … it’s pretty dopey,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack labelled PETA members “idiots who have never been outside the city”.
“Their thinking around this is reprehensible,” he said.
However, Ms Naxakis is sticking to her guns, arguing that more humane methods should have been rolled out by the government a long time ago.
“Farmers have been crying out for help for months,” she said.
“(Government) inaction months ago has led to this.
“The situation has gotten so bad that not only farmers are suffering, but mice are suffering.”
Last week, the NSW government responded to farmers’ pleas for help with a $50 million relief package that includes rebates and a promise to chemically treat grain to protect against the vermin.
The government is also seeking urgent approval from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for approval to use bromadiolone – a new poison outlawed in Australia that’s guaranteed to kill rodents within 24 hours