By Oliver Brown
THOUGH 2020 is now behind us, the ongoing mouse infestation is still plaguing local businesses with some now calling for council or government assistance.
The mice have been present in the community for several months and are responsible for the loss of thousands of dollars in damaged and wasted stock.
Manager of the Coonamble SUPA IGA Veeral Patel said the mice are not picky with what they target.
“They are going after everything in the shop, from dog and cat food, to biscuits – they’re even chewing their way through some of our scarves,” Mr Patel said.
Most of the damaged stock is being thrown out, much to the frustration of retailers. Owner of the Gulargambone Pharmacy Robina Chaudhry said she had incurred more than $1,000 in damages.
“They’ve ruined so much of our stock – they even ate our soap bars and nappies – which is even more difficult because we are a small business,” Mrs Chaudhry said.
Meanwhile, owner of Coonamble Cellars Rodney Vallett said he has wasted the better part of $1,000 in stock alongside thousands in repair costs.
“One mouse got into our printer just before Christmas and it would have costed $2,100 to fix it – in the end, we decided it was cheaper to just get another one,” Mr Vallett said.
“Also the week before Christmas, the police turned up at our place in response to a burgler alarm and we had no idea what happened – it took us a while to figure out a mouse had eaten through one of our distress alarms and it’s going to cost us $1,000 to fix that.
“What’s worse, you can’t claim any of it because – like with COVID – insurance doesn’t cover mice.”
Coonamble Motel manager Shiralee Dollar has also had to dispose of bulk stock and appliances due to mice and she said she has also lost potential business.
“They get into the coffee and sugar so you have to throw it all out, or box it up – I’ve also had to throw out my oven and fridge after mice infested them,” Ms Dollar said.
Efforts to control the problem have resulted in additional expenses, with each business having a different level of success.
“We’re spending $50-60 a week on traps to try and get rid of them – we’ve even got to the point of spreading poison grain out the back,” said Mr Vallett’s nephew Lain, who also works at the cellars.
“Two days after that, we found 32 dead mice in the store room in one day,” Mr Vallett added.
Coonamble Cellars have also discovered a new addition to the plague – rats – with employee Mitchell Browne discovering one almost the size of a rabbit dying in their store room last week.
According to Mr Patel, poison bait has been an effective method for both their store and their customers, with sales for traps and bait at a record high.
“We also sell traps in our store and I’d say in the last two months, we’ve sold more than we have over the past couple of years.”
Ms Dollar said she’s constantly finding dead mice killed by the poison she’s laid out at the motel.
“I’ve put poisoned wheat in the car park and around the building and I’m picking up anything between 30 and 50 daily,” Ms Dollar said.
“It’s the same with homes – we’re catching at least 30 mice a day at my daughter’s place – the council really has to do something about it.
Mrs Chaudhry said she had spent between $1,500 and $2,000 on pest control services but they needed support from some level of government to fully eliminate the problem.
“We have put out so many things, from professional baits to traps and have hired a pest control person three times,” she said.
“It does feel controlled now, but it’s still not enough – the numbers aren’t increasing anymore but they’re not reducing either.
“What I don’t understand is why the government doesn’t come in to finish the job – we can only do so much and any help we can get, we would appreciate!”