The worst mouse plague New South Wales has seen in decades is forcing the relocation of hundreds of prisoners and staff from the Wellington Correctional Centre. The move, which will take place over the next two weeks, will transport more than 400 prisoners and 200 staff out to other facilities.
Most of the staff will be reassigned to facilities in the western part of New South Wales, while inmates will be distributed to a number of sites.
The mice have done significant damage to Wellington Correctional Centre’s infrastructure, wreaking havoc on the prison’s electrical wire system and ceiling panels.
According to Peter Severin, commissioner of Corrective Services in New South Wales: “Mice have invaded the centre and the damage is to such an extent that we’re much better off evacuating the centre for a period of time.”
Severin said the plague has worsened in recent weeks.
Operations at the correctional centre are expected to be reduced for the next four months. The facility will be cleaned and repaired in that period, and authorities hope to put in measures to protect against any future plagues.
Authorities say an unusually productive grain harvest is to blame for the influx of mice. Farms have been particularly affected by the plague over the past months, but the rodents have also spread to nearby facilities and structures.
Local media have been reporting a sharp rise in rodents since the spring harvest of 2020. Ideal weather conditions and bumper grain harvest have coincided to create the perfect circumstances for the mice to flourish.
New South Wales has seen the worst of the plague, but Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria have also been affected. There have been reports of rodent populations in schools, supermarkets, hospitals, and private homes.
ABC News Australia said that potentially millions of rodents are laying waste to farms all across Australia with little indication that it will slow down.