Rodents on rampage

AUSTRALIA's premier grain growing areas have been invaded by an army of mice. According to Ken McElligot, lands minister of the grain-rich Queensland state, 400,000 tons of the cereal would be devoured by the marauding rats if immediate action is not taken to tackle them. This is nearly half the state's expected winter crop, due to be harvested in December this year. "Many grain growers are reporting mouse populations moving across their land in waves, " reports McElligot.

The desperate Queensland authorities are now planning to bomb the rodents with strychnine. They are launching a massive aerial baiting programme which will use this fast-acting drug that fells a mouse in 8 seconds. But before that the state cabinet will have to issue a formal approval to lift a currently existing ban on strychnine.