Vole infestation causes damages of over half a billion crowns

Vole, photo: Dieter TD, CC BY-SA 3.0

Damages to the grain harvest caused by the widespread infestation of voles have reached half a billion crowns so far, the Czech Republic’s Agricultural Association announced at a press conference on Friday, adding that the figure is likely to grow even further.

Vole,  photo: Dieter TD,  CC BY-SA 3.0
The damage to grains and other crops was assessed on an area of 87,000 hectares of land, which represents around one fifth of the country’s arable land.

The voles have decimated mainly the grain harvest but according to the country’s Agricultural Association, they are also threatening rapeseed crops, corn, sugar beet and sunflower production. The area most hard-hit by the overpopulated rodents is South and Central Moravia.

“The harvest of winter grains is already seriously threatened,” Martin Pýcha, head of the Agricultural Association, told the Czech News Agency. He also said some farmers were considering not sowing winter grains at all.

According to Martin Pýcha, head of the Agricultural Association, the damages won’t affect the price of grains in the Czech Republic.

Following the infestation of voles, the Agriculture Ministry in August gave farmers in most parts of the country permission to use a certain type of rat poison, known as Stutox II, on blanket scale in fields, orchards, meadows and vineyards.

However, it quickly reversed its decision, after environmentalists warned that the poison presents a serious threat to birds and other animals, including household pets, who might come into contact with the substance.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the application of the substance was in violation with the law on landscape protection.

Around 80 dead rabbits and a couple of storks were found in Moravia following the short-lived permission to use Stutox II. Laboratory tests subsequently conducted by the State Veterinary Institute confirmed that they were killed by the dangerous substance.

The Agricultural Association is currently holding talks with the ministries of agriculture and environment about the possibility of financial compensation to farmers for the losses caused by the overpopulated rodents.

Meanwhile, farmers across the country are seeking to get new permission to use Stutox II by applying it directly to rodents’ holes.