China: Men 'release 1,000 mice' in village

A mouse Image copyright Wikimedia/Hans Hillewaert
Image caption Mouse attack: Villagers in southern China had to contend with an sudden surge in the mouse population

Two men have been detained in China after releasing hundreds of mice in a rural village, it's reported.

Some locals say more than 1,000 rodents were released in the village in southern Guangdong province, the Guangzhou Daily website reports. The "absurd scene" left about 100 local people to deal with the influx, with one villager telling the website: "More than 1,000 mice were scurrying around, it was disgusting." Health authorities have dispatched poison to help deal with the problem, for fear the mice could spread disease. Three other people involved in the incident fled the scene, and their reasons for setting the animals free remain unclear. But a report in Hong Kong's Apple Daily says the detained men told police they had released the mice in an "act of atonement", in the hope it might help an ill elderly relative get better.

Releasing animals into the wild is sometimes seen as an act of charity in China. But as the practice becomes more popular it is destroying local ecosystems, as animals are released which aren't native to the local area, according to the Beijing Times. "As for the claim that releasing mice is an act of atonement, all that does is give us a good laugh," the paper adds.

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