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MOUSE CENSUS WEEK

MouseAlert aims to improve early warning signals about mouse plagues, which is of benefit to both agricultural workers and pest managers. 

Growers recorded mouse activity on their properties from April 13 to 19 as part of Mouse Census Week, which aims to provide an unprecedented bank of data about mouse activity in agricultural areas.

The census, initiated by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) with the support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), took place before and during seeding of winter crops – a critical time for locating mouse ‘hot spots’ and determining whether numbers are at levels that could pose a risk to newly sown crops.

Farmers and advisers recorded mouse activity via MouseAlert, a website and app aimed at improving early warning of possible plagues to enable a rapid response to increases in mouse activity.

Grain grower Richard Konzag, of Mallala in South Australia, says recording information about mouse numbers and activity on his property via the MouseAlert app was a simple but important exercise.

“The app was easy to download and it took no time for me to contribute information about the level of mouse activity on our property,” said Mr Konzag.

Steve Henry, research officer with the CSIRO, says it is important that mouse activity is assessed across all grain- growing areas to identify the likelihood of large-scale mouse problems in approaching growing seasons.

“This first census will identify where potential problem areas are, on the eve of the 2015 cropping season,” Mr Henry said.

“It will enable growers to look at what is happening in their areas as it happens so they can be on the front foot with their mouse management strategies.

“We want to obtain as much information as we can – knowledge is power. If we can establish a good dataset it will also help us to develop better plague prediction models.”

Results from the census could also help to provide pest managers in grain-growing regions with an indication of the intensity of mouse infestations this coming winter.