Two rabbits.
Two rabbits.

200 million rabbits pose threat to our agricultural land

A MATE from around the corner has a rabbit problem and asked if I'd consider writing a story on the subject.

I couldn't resist as I know a thing or two about rabbits.

In an earlier story I mentioned Captain Arthur Phillip turned up in 1788 with a stack of European "pests" including five rabbits.

In 1920 it was estimated there were 10 billion rabbits in Australia.

In the 1950s the myxomatosis virus was introduced and soon some 95 per cent of the population had gone to Rabbit Heaven.

Despite that, it is estimated 200 million rabbits abound today, including two at my mate's place.

Rabbits are cute, there is no doubt, but they pose an ongoing threat to our agricultural lands and chomp through a lettuce, for example, in a matter of moments.

Their population has been reduced by other means, including shooting, trapping and destruction of their warrens.

I won't go into all the gory detail, but trapping rabbits and selling skins to hide and skin merchants was a nice money spinner for this little country boy, as it was for many youngsters.

It was amazing how many lollies one could buy with a shilling!

We often see reports of Akubra, and it should be compulsory for every Australian to own an Akubra hat or two, sourcing rabbit skins from Europe.

That doesn't seem to make much sense if we've got 200 million of the pests around the country.

Apparently the economics of slaughtering rabbits just for their fur is not enough and to make a profit there must also be a market for meat.

Australians aren't too keen on having bunny for tea and "Rabbit Cacciatore" with onions, garlic, red bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and herbs isn't as popular now as it once was.

Did you know it's legal to keep rabbits in every state and territory except Queensland where the maximum fine is $63,000?

I am sensing a daylight saving-type conspiracy here!

A $63,000 fine for having a bunny and a slap on the wrist for pretty much every other crime, really?

Help is at hand for my mate and for anyone else with rabbit problems.

We have our very own rabbit board namely the Darling Downs - Moreton Rabbit Board, which maintains a 555 kilometre rabbit-proof fence and has as its chair, our own former Toowoomba Region councillor Anne Glasheen.

I rang them and received a very friendly response from a staffer.

Yes they're happy to help where possible, and yes, they have a compliance department with officers who will come to your place to investigate.

And sorry, they don't cater for hares!

Call them on 07 4661 4076.

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