Some unwanted visitors have forced around 200 staff members and 420 prison inmates to be relocated from the Wellington Correctional Center in New South Wales. The unsanitary guests have infiltrated the entire building causing extensive damage.
What caused hundreds of hardened criminals to go running at the first sight of these new residents? A plague of mice that have ravaged the land of eastern Australia. Now, these inmates must take shelter elsewhere for the next 10 days while some major cleaning and repairs take place.
"The health, safety and wellbeing of staff and inmates is our No. 1 priority so it’s important for us to act now to carry out the vital remediation work," Severin said.
The remediation work at the prison will include investigating ways to protect the facility from future mice plagues, which are a phenomenon largely unique to Australia.
Plagues usually happen when rain follows several years of drought. The current plague is the worst that many can remember in some areas.
Severin said the mice infestation was worst in prison buildings that weren’t built from concrete.
"The mice have got into ... wall cavities, into roof spaces. They’re dead but then they start obviously decaying and then the next problem is mites," Severin told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Millions of mice have caused destruction in the grain-growing region of Australia’s most populated state for several months now, munching on crops and haystacks as well as nesting in homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and prisons.
Generally, the most common complaint about this modern-day plague is the ever-present smell that comes with mice infestations, such as urine and decaying flesh. Some people even claim to have been bitten by mice while sleeping in their beds. Mouse carcasses and excrement in roof guttering are polluting farmers’ water systems and causing illness.
According to researchers, mice numbers will soon begin to plateau as the species always stops breeding during the Southern Hemisphere winter but numbers could explode again if the weather is right in the spring.