• Staff Writers

Mice 'napalm' could kill Murray Cod: fish advocate

The poison touted as mice ‘napalm’ by the New South Wales state government could wipe out vulnerable species like the Murray Cod if used as a last resort to combat the mouse plague, a Healthy Rivers Dubbo spokesperson has claimed.

Under increasing pressure to help end the plague that has tormented regional communities for eight months, the NSW government recently announced it has secured 5,000 litres of the potent rodent poison bromadiolone.

Currently banned for agricultural use in Australia and only allowed for special emergency cases, the state has offered to provide the poison for free if the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority approve its use.

Whilst announcing a $50 million government package to deal with the outbreak, Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall described the poison as the equivalent of 'napalming' mice.

However, fish advocates are concerned the poison will kill much more than that. Healthy Rivers Dubbo spokeswoman Mel Gray said:

"If he thinks it is was going to napalm mice, well he better be prepared for the consequences of napalming vulnerable Murray Cod as well.

Murray Cod, a protected species listed as vulnerable by the federal government, are a 'voracious predator' according to Ms Gray, with a current diet comprised predominantly of mice due to the plague numbers.

"There's a reason that bromadiolone is banned across the world.
"This will absolutely jeopardise the remaining population of Murray Cod that we've got."

Wild birds such as eagles, kites and owls are also potentially at risk of ingesting the poison by predating affected mice.

Ms Gray also claimed:

"First Nations communities here are really concerned about bush tucker being impacted and becoming dangerous.

Edith Cowan University's Dr Rob Davis said:

"This is potentially spreading through the whole food chain when we use these products.
"You could be seeing agriculture landscapes without owls, kites, snakes and goannas for a long time to come.
"We could lose all our natural pest control.
"There would be no other country in the western world that would approve this use of bromadiolone."

The NSW Farmers are calling for primary producers to get a 50 per cent rebate on zinc phosphide, an alternative, less-lethal poison.

If widespread bromadiolone use is approved by the APVMA, it will be the first time such use has been approved in Australia since 2016.