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The challenge

Mouse plagues have big economic and social impacts

Mice cause huge economic and social impacts on rural communities, especially during mouse plagues.

Our current understanding of the actual magnitude of these economic and social burdens is based on data collected some 30 years ago from the mouse plague in 1993 (Caughley et al. 1994).

Farming practices have changed substantially over this time, from conventional tillage to conservation practices with zero- and no-till systems. So new insights are needed to really understand the scale of the mouse plague impacts.

Piggery mice. Photo by Peter Brown

The mouse plague that affected much of NSW presents an ideal opportunity to not only repeat the survey conducted in the 1993 mouse plague but also expand the scope of the study to include elements of social impacts to rural communities. In addition to economic and disease impacts, mouse plagues can cause severe psychological distress for people living through them.

Most economic impacts occur prior to farm gate, and there are few good data sets available that could be used to quantify the impact of the NSW mouse plague.

Our response

Survey across NSW regional communities affected by the 2021 mouse plague

To undertake this assessment, we are working with social and economic researchers. Several focus group discussions were held with affected NSW communities, which has informed the development of the online survey. This survey across regional NSW communities will help us understand the full impacts of the mouse plague on regional NSW communities.

The survey is now open for regional NSW residents in affected areas, and is open until early December 2023. The survey will take approximately 25 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely voluntary. And you can exit the survey at any time by closing the browser window prior to submitting your responses, which will subsequently be deleted.

Farmer and CSIRO researchers

The survey findings may be presented at industry, government and academic forums, and in research articles and reports. Your responses will be combined with those of many other participants, and you will not be personally identified in any reporting. Data in anonymised and aggregate form may be shared with our research partners for further analysis.

This study has been cleared in accordance with the ethical review processes of CSIRO, within the guidelines of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

If you’d like to find out more about the research, please contact the research team via email at or phone 02 6246 4086. Any concerns or complaints about the study can be raised with CSIRO's Social Science Human Research Ethics Committee by email at or by phoning the Manager of Social Responsibility and Ethics on 07 3833 5693

This project is part of a Department of Regional NSW project on “Research and monitoring program to support more effective management of mice in NSW”.

The results

A detailed picture of the social and economic impacts of the 2021 NSW mouse plague

The research can help inform response to future mice plagues in NSW.

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