My father used to tell us of hillsides moving with rabbits on Ashridge in the Hakataramea Valley where he worked in the late 1930s.
A concerted eradication programme, helped by the establishment of Rabbit Boards got the pests under control.
Numbers increased again until the 1990s when someone – illegally – introduced rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD).
The rabbit population dropped but it’s on the rise again.
It’s not unusual to see several rabbits in a very short distance on the road at night. In spite of regular shoots and the efforts of Pepper, the dog, we often see them on the farm and our lawn.
RCD comes in waves and it must be ebbing now. But even at its peak it needs to be complemented by traditional methods of culling – poisoning and/or shooting.
Unfortunately when farm budgets are strained pest destruction may not be a priority for everyone and rabbits don’t stop at the boundaries of farms which don’t do their bit.
We’re not getting back to the moving hillsides my father witnessed but when we came down Mt Iron a couple of weeks ago we counted more than 30 rabbits on a sunny face about the size of a couple of netball courts.
When numbers are getting that bad on the edge of town they’re even worse in the country.
Is it time to consider reinstating pest destruction boards?