As a maximum security prison, the Wellington Correctional Center in New South Wales is good at keeping prisoners in—but it has completely failed to keep rodents out during the mouse plague the region is experiencing. The prison says more than 400 inmates and 200 staff members will be relocated to other facilities while extensive damage caused by a mouse infestation is repaired, BBC reports. Officials say it will take around four months to fully clean the facility, repair the damage, and install protection against future plagues. The mice have chewed through ceiling panels and internal wiring and nested inside the prison walls.
Authorities say the infestation has been getting worse for months and dead mice as well as live ones are a big problem. "The mice start decaying and then the next problem is mites and we just don't want to expose staff and prisoners to anything that could cause harm to their health," Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The mouse plague has devastated farms in the area and researcher Steve Henry tells CNN that the prison's rural location made it a target. "There are lots of fields with crops around the jail," he says. "The mice invaded the jail looking for food and shelter as the weather gets colder outside." (Read more Australia stories.)