Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rabbits, Australia’s number one feral pest

© Othmar Vohringer

Rabbits are Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural pest animals. Rabbits are not native to Australia. The rabbits have been introduced from England around 1827 and quickly spread all over Australia. Within a few decades their numbers grew to millions, making the rabbit the fasted growing population of introduced species anywhere in the world.

The impact of rabbits on native plants and agricultural crops includes damage to vegetation through ringbarking, grazing and browsing. Rabbits also prevent regeneration of native plants by eating seedlings. As well as causing detrimental habitat change, rabbits threaten native mammals through direct competition for food and shelter.

The damage to the agricultural economy is estimated to be in the billions and the damage to wild habitat and wildlife is considered “threatening”. Compared with Europe and America, Australia has few predators and lacks wild predatory species (e.g. ferrets and weasels), which kill young rabbits in great numbers. Australia's moderate to tropical climate permits rabbits to breed throughout the year, often having as many as four times offspring. A rabbit can raise as many as 16 young. The survival chances of the offspring is regraded "excellent" due to the preferable climate and the lack of predators that feed on rabbits. To give birth and raise their young rabbits burrow deep holes in the ground. A large population of rabbits can completely destroy vast tracts of land with underground tunnels.

Overgrazing by rabbits removes plant cover and contributes to soil erosion. Rabbits cause changes in the quality of flora and habitat of native fauna. Most rabbit damage to native vegetation occurs when the annual pasture dries off and rabbits are forced to eat native perennial plants.

Shooting, trapping, poisoning rabbits and using dynamite to blow up their burrows have little impact on the fast expanding rabbit population. In a last ditch effort to eradicate Australia’s number one pest the government introduced myxomatosis, a deadly illness that only befalls rabbits, but it did not have the hoped for effect to curb the devastating rabbit plague. The rabbit population is still growing out of control.

Yesterday I reported that PETA successfully bullied Alannah Hill into the discontinuation of using fur as trim for her famous fashion garments. Alannah caved in after PETA members sent over 4,000 abusive messages and threatened to kill her and harm her seven-year old son if she doesn’t stop to use fur. You may ask, “What has that to do with Australia’s rabbit pest problem?” I’ll tell you. Alannah Hill used exclusively wild rabbit fur for her fashion clothing and PETA objects to using a side product of a pest killed in the millions. In other words PETA puts animals over the interest of people. Even, as in this case, said animals destroy vast expanses of wildlife habitat and agricultural land.

It would be preferable to PETA if Australia is totally over run and destroyed by rabbits than having a fashion designer making use of a pests fur and making a living by doing so. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. PETA went many times on public record stating that an animal’s life is preferable over that of a human. Ingrid Newkirk made the following infamous statements; “Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we’d be against it.” Or how about this one “Humans have grown like a cancer. We're the biggest blight on the face of the earth.” Of course these are only two of many such human degrading statements, like the one where she compares the horrors endured by the Jews in Nazi Germany with that of chickens.

Mind you PETA only plays the animal advocate if it suits their agenda propaganda. Behind closed doors they have as little regard for animals as they have for humans. PETA kills more animals in their pet shelter than any other animal shelter in North America. PETA is so much into killing animals that some of the pets that are handed over to them never make it alive to the shelter, and that despite promising the owners of the pet to do their utmost to find a good home for it. There are also documented cases where PETA and the HSUS have willfully inflicted pain on animals in order to obtain “realistic” film footage for theit propaganda videos.

Can you spell “hypocrites”?

Othmar Vohringer Outdoors
Founding Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

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SimplyOutdoors said...

I could go over to Australia and provide some pest control solutions. Rabbit hunting is a lot of fun, and I'd love to help eradicate of a few of the pest for the dinner table.

PETA's attacks and agendas don't even surprise me anymore. They are so radical, and yet people look right past that part of them.

It's a shame that she caved to their threats. I think that only emboldens them and makes them continue with their anti-human ways.

I'm glad you're getting the message out there, though, Othmar. We have to start somewhere.

Othmar Vohringer said...

O love rabbit hunting too and as I understand so do many Australians.

I find it a shame too that Alannah Hill caved in to the threats. However, I do not know if I wouldn't do the same if someone would threaten to kill my seven-year old child and I wouldn't get any support form the law (police).

I could deal, and have a few times in the past, with threats against me but family members and especially children are a different story.

It shows the true face of animal rights if they feel the need to take their anger out on innocent children. That fact alone makes them in my opinion terrorists.

In an interesting side note. I posted about this on an animal rights blog. A day later I got an email saying. "Thank you for the comment. Unfortunately we will not be able to post it on our blog. We only permit comments that are positive of our agenda."

At least the editor of that blog was honest and it makes me feel good because I do let animal rights comment on my blog. As long as the comments are in a civil manner. Unlike animal rights I do not have to hide behind a wall of make-belief.


Nick said...

I live in Melbourne, Australia and am a keen rabbit hunter. They are very good to eat but as you state they unfortunately cause a tremendous amount on damage.

I thought I would just add this extract from Wikipedia that gives a bit more detail on the history of the rabbit and the attempt to control it with myxomatosis;

"In Australia, the virus was first field-tested for population control in 1938. A full-scale release was performed in 1950. It was devastatingly effective, reducing the estimated rabbit population from 600 million to 100 million in two years. However, the rabbits remaining alive were those least affected by the disease. Genetic resistance to myxomatosis was observed soon after the first release and most rabbits acquired partial immunity in the first two decades. Resistance has been increasing slowly since the 1970s, and the disease now only kills about 50% of infected rabbits. In an attempt to increase that number, a second virus (rabbit calicivirus) was introduced into the rabbit population in 1996."

The calicivirus has not had a significant impact on rabbit population, not where I hunt them anyway.

One other "control" method is the European Red Fox, also introduced to Australia in the 1800's by the British fox hunting gentry who were large land holders here at the time. History shows the fox could not keep pace with the rabbit and it also has had a devastating impact, this time on the native fauna in Australia. So beween the fox and the rabbit the Australian landscape has been dramatically altered.

Interestingly the rabbit fur was and probably still is used for a famous Australia felt bush hat brand "Akubra".

Like you I am distressed at the behaviour of extremist groups such Peta particularly when they intrude on the honest pursuit of hunting animals for food and in the case of the rabbits here in Australia, hunting them for fur.

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