A NSW Riverina cropper who is struggling with the mouse plague has criticised the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activist group after it urged farmers not to kill the rodents.
John Stevenson, who is battling the infestation on his property near Lockhart, has suggested that someone from PETA might like to try driving his mouse-infested tractor.
PETA spokeswoman Aleesha Naxakis has made several media appearances this week urging people not to kill the mice that have devastated large swathes of NSW and southern Queensland.
News Corp reported that she originally claimed rodents shouldn't be denied their "right" to food because of the "dangerous notion of human supremacy".
In a statement to The Daily Advertiser, Ms Naxakis said: "If they must be killed, it is only ethical and right to do so as painlessly as possible, not through any gut-wrenching poisons that cause slow, agonising deaths to mice or other animals who may eat the poison or its victims."
"The government's failure to keep the mouse population in check through a long-term plan of deterrents and contraceptives has left farmers struggling to protect their crops from mice who are simply struggling to eke out an existence," she said.
Bountiful crop-growing conditions have turned into despair for many regional families who were recovering from bushfires and drought and are now fighting to prevent the mice destroying their crops, contaminating their homes and damaging their machinery.
Mr Stevenson, a 2016 Nuffield Scholar, said Ms Naxakis's comments were "out of touch".
"They're not out here experiencing it," he said.
"This is the probably the worst that I've seen in the Riverina and I've been around this area for 25 years.
"It's certainly knocking around our plant population. We're trying to keep the baiting up to the point where we're minimising the loss."
About a week ago, his wife's step-father Bill Doherty filmed a steady stream of mice falling into a tractor, which Mr Stevenson posted on Twitter yesterday morning.
He crops about 8000 hectares of cereal grains, canola and pulses near Lockhart and is having to spend about $15 a hectare on mouse bait, which needs to be spread by hand.
"The mice are getting into everything. They can get into hoses, things like that and they chew everything," he said.
Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Ms Naxakis's comments "beggar belief".
"In Lockhart Shire there is a mice infestation. Out at Ungarie they're just shovelling dead mice each and every morning out of haystacks, out of their homes and grain bins. It's a disastrous situation," he said.
"We have someone from PETA making comments like this which are really unnecessary. The only good mouse is a dead mouse."