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Mice are coming out of the woodwork in lakes country

An influx of outdoor mice has area homeowners on the verge of mouse madness.

Mouse traps and mouse bait have been selling at record levels, exterminators are staying busy and people who have never had house cats before are bringing in "mousers" to join the fight.

On our Facebook page, this newspaper asked if people were having worse-then-usual mice problems this year.

More than a dozen people quickly responded, with several saying they had killed between two and four dozen mice so far this year.

Mice have been spotted inside houses, garages and even vehicles.

One man said his family has lived in the area 34 years and never had mice before this year.

"It's been terrible," said Brady Neros, who has lived on a hobby farm near Hawley for the past nine years. "Lots of people I've talked to have had the same issues—they've never seen it so bad."

His wife even adopted two kittens from a friend in Lake Park to patrol the outside of the house, he said.

But the indoor traps set by the Neros quit working as the mice learned to avoid them, so the two young cats were brought in as reinforcements.

"The kittens ended up catching them," he said. "We have house cats now, for the first time ... they're definitely well fed, they're busy," he added.

Neros said he has a friend who farms near Vergas and keeps feed bins for horses. "He opened one and there were 27 mice in there, they couldn't get out. It's unbelievable — they're everywhere, it seems."

Sarah Bachleitner with the Humane Society of the Lakes confirmed that cats are more in demand now.

"Yes, we have had an increase in people coming in to get mousers to take care of mice problems," she said.

Hardware stores are doing a brisk business in mouse traps and baits.

"I just sold tons and tons more than normal, just boatloads of it," said Mark Beug of Ace Hardware in Detroit Lakes.

He said people have told him they've caught 50 or 75 mice in their homes.

"I've been doing this for 34 years and it's the most I've ever seen, it's crazy," he said.

"There's been an increase in sales," agreed Mike Langen, store manager for L&M Fleet Supply in Detroit Lakes. "Everything is selling — glue traps, snap traps, poisons — we have a really good supply of all of it."

Part of the problem is there are so few acorns this year, said Nathan Danielson, owner of Alliance Pest Control in Audubon.

"Most of our mice around here are deer mice, they eat acorns," he said. "The acorn buds froze this spring, so they never developed — the acorns we have found are hollow, there's nothing in them."

It was also a "nice winter last year—the mice did good, it wasn't hard on them," he added.

The problem tends to be worse out of town, he said. "Pelican Lake has been probably one of the most popular places we've set up," he said.

Some people have quit feeding birds for now, because the feed attracts mice, he said. Others no longer keep dog food or cat food in the garage.

Danielson said he has been in business for 20 years and it's "a long time since I've seen this many (rodent control jobs)."

He started fielding mouse-related calls in June. "We started doing a bunch of (mouse) set-ups when normally what we do that time of year is spray," he said.

Danielson sets exterior traps to try to kill rodents before they can get into a house, and mouse-proofs a home by sealing holes with Pestblock foam sealant and copper mesh, which doesn't rust like steel wool does.

Mice are prolific breeders, with females capable of having 6-10 pups every three weeks, Danielson said.

"If you don't catch them they can have a lot of babies," he said. "They can populate pretty fast."