- Field mice have destroyed swathes of farmland in Germany in what is the worst rodent infestation in over thirty years, according to the country's national farming association.
- An estimated 300,000 acres have been stripped bare by the small furry animals, which has resulted in significant crop loss for farmers.
- Farmers have blamed the infestation on the weather as well as highlighting a reduction in pesticide use, which has helped the rodents flourish in recent years.
- While there have been calls on the government to relax the rules on the use of pesticides, environmentalists say that other endangered species will be at risk of being killed off.
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Plagues of field mice have destroyed thousands of acres of farmland in Germany, which has been described as the worst rodent infestation in over 30 years, according to the country's national farming association.
An estimated 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares) of fields across the country have been stripped bare by the ravenous rodents, leading to significant crop loss and calls for compensation.
The country's agricultural minister, Julia Klöckner, has called the decimation of land an agricultural emergency and is now asking for a reassessment of laws governing the use of pesticides.
"We've already seen huge damage, and more is to be expected," Klöckner said, according to the Guardian.
Farmers in the worst-affected states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt have complained that the mice, which are around 5-inches (15 cm) long, are devastating their food crops.
In the worst-affected state of Thuringia, as much as a quarter of the crops are affected. The damage is estimated at around $530 for every acre of wheat, the Guardian reported.
"They are eating everything," said Matthias Krieg, who manages an agricultural firm near the town of Zeitz in Saxony-Anhalt told German news website Der Spiegel. "Not even the sugar beets are safe."
Some farmers blame a succession of dry summers and mild winters for the infestation — but a reduction in the use of pesticides has also helped the rodents flourish, they say.
Joachim Rukwied, the president of the German Farmers' Association, said: "The farmers must be given the possibility to protect their harvest with appropriate measures. Right now environmental restrictions are preventing an effective control of the mouse population," the Guardian reported.
But while there have been calls on the government to relax the rules on the use of pesticides, environmentalists say that endangered species, such as hamsters, hares, and migratory birds, will be at risk of being killed off.
Magnus Wessel, of the Association for the Protection of the Environment and Nature, told German media that poison was not a solution and that the "side effects would be enormous."
"Not only would it kill off the field mice, but also the highly endangered common hamster. Birds that ingest the poison would also die," Wessel added, according to Der Spiegel.
According to the Guardian, some campaigners are calling for a ban on fox hunting that kills 400,000 annually. A fox can eat up to 5,000 field mice a year, they say.
Over 80% of Germany's land is used for agriculture, with chief agricultural products including milk, pork, beef, potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbages, and sugar beets.
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