Rabbits galore

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?

4 Responses to Rabbits galore

  1. Lou Taylor says:

    I remember as a kid going out with shooting around Kurow in the early 1970’s. We could easily get 200-300 rabbits in a night. Plus shooting up the islands on the Waitaki with our 22’s.

    We’ve got a much bigger pest to deal with now though – The Labour Party. But a pest destruction board may be a bit extreme!!

  2. gravedodger says:

    My agriculture advisories lead me to believe, the virus still works when flystrike conditions are about. That is, atmospheric temperatures need to be at the higher end of the spectrum with higher humidity. There is also a growing consensus that rabbits that have died from the virus need to be moved to areas of suspected resistance. Of course this control system has far from wide acceptance in this country so research is not seen as glamorous or rewarding therefore it is generally ignored and a problem for someone else.

  3. pdm says:

    When I was a kid growing up in rural Central Hawkes Bay rabbiters with their large teams of dogs were a regular sight. Like a lot of good things rural they eventually disappeared.

  4. jordie says:

    when i was growing up down in milton i can rember going out every nite shootin and now i have strted it up as a hobbie and trying to find farms to go shooting on but i havnt had anytakers around chch and milton as of yet.and i dont wat to see it like the old days where the hills move coz of the damage they do to the land and stuff

    oops sorry about the spelling mistakes

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