The Times newspaper informs me that more than 300,000 acres of German farmland have been stripped of their grass and the landscape reduced to a lunar vision by a plague of mice. It is believed that the cause of the rapid multiplication and population growth of mice in the state of Lower Saxony originates in last year’s dry summer, the warm winter and EU conservation rules.
The report tells me that farmers have tried to attract birds of prey to control the mice or to lure mice with peanut butter and oatmeal (diversion feeding). There’s no mention of using what must be the most efficient means of killing and controlling mice namely domestic and feral cats. The primary prey for domestic and feral cats are mice. It is said that this small cat species is not so good at controlling rats but mice are definitely the cat’s forté. There will be no problem.
I suspect, however, that the authorities believe that they would simply be replacing one problem with another namely an infestation of feral cats. I think that idea can be scotched by the simple fact of ensuring that the cats are sterilised and of middle-age so that they cannot reproduce and die naturally after about five years maximum. The numbers can be controlled because they would be introduced deliberately into certain areas. At least trial the idea.
There are numerous instances of feral cats being placed on farmland as barn cats with the objective of controlling rodents. I’m surprised that the idea has not crossed the minds of the authorities in Germany or perhaps the report has omitted this.
Apparently, infestations of rodents have been reported across most of Europe but the heavy losses in terms of stripping grass from the landscape concerns the North Sea coast of Germany where some farms might go out of business. At the very least the outbreak might cost the continent of Europe hundreds of millions of euros.
A dairy farmer near the Dutch border said that the situation is catastrophic. He said that the mice had cost him more than €50,000 and a third of his grassland. He said his neighbour had lost 540 of his 600 acres. The EU, in 2008, band the use of the poison zinc phosphide to combat mouse infestations because it caused collateral damage to birds and mammals. Feral cats are entirely natural. There are none of the hazards of poisons which I agree should be banned. Let’s go back to the natural way and use cats as happened in the days of old.
SOME MORE ON BARN CATS: