Friday, 28 June 2013

It's here again.

Every June it happens.   One day we walk around the fields and there they are - rabbits with Myxomatosis.   Yesterday we didn't see a single one; today they are everywhere in our fields.

It is a cruel disease and I for one find it inexcusable that it was introduced.   The Myxomatosis virus was first discovered in 1896 in Uruguay.   Because Australia had a terrible problem with rabbits, the virus was deliberately imported into there in the early 1950's and it almost wiped out the entire population of rabbits.

In 1952 it was deliberately imported into France and by 1953 it had arrived in the UK - nobody is prepared to say whether it arrived by chance (it is spread by flying insects and rabbit fleas) of whether it was deliberately brought in.   The disease ran its course and wiped out over ninety percent of the UK population of wild rabbits.

But, of course, those who were not killed by it developed an immunity to it and bred - like rabbits.   So now we have a population of rabbits here who get the disease each year - the fittest survive (or do not get it because of immunity) - the others die.

And, believe me, if you have not seen a rabbit dying of 'myxy' then you have no idea what an inhuman and cruel death they have.  Personally I do not think anything justifies deliberately inflicting this awful disease on the wild population of an animal which most of us view with a kind of Beatrix Potter affection.

Over the next few months this morning's debacle will be re-enacted here on the farm many times over in various forms.   Tess, who is absolutely no good at catching rabbits but likes to give them a run for their money (they usually let her get quite close before they run and then stand by their burrow clutching their sides with laughter at her inept attempts), spotted a young, half grown rabbit and chased it.   It ran, hesitantly, blundered into the wire fencing, bounced off it, blundered a bit further up the field and repeated the exercise, squealed as she caught it.   The farmer by this time was just behind her, took it off her and despatched it quickly and humanely - it was blind and festering.   Frankly no animal should be put through that - wild or tame, a pest or not.

We pay someone who is a good shot to despatch our rabbits when they get too numerous.   OK, occasionally they might only 'wing' one and it might die a slow death.  But in the majority of cases it is a good, clean death, over in a minute  - the carcase often collected the same day by a local vixen looking for food for her brood.

I realise that any animal which is reputed to eat so much grass (they say ten adult rabbits eat as much grass as one cow) needs to be kept under strict control.   But seeing a field full of festering, blind, crippled rabbits sitting waiting to be put out of their misery (the farmer always kills any that he comes across - quickly and humanely) is in no sense justified. 


angryparsnip said...

This makes me so sad.
What a horrible way to die. My daughter had bunnies when she was young. We loved them and they were allowed to run around the home, at allowed times, and later had a run for them.
What happens to the animals who eat the dead poisoned rabbits ?
I have to control the packrats who live here and are horrible and destructive. But as they are part of the food chain I never poison them, I have a service who catches them and disposes of them. I don't like it but if I didn't keep some control over them my home would be overrun.

cheers, parsnip

Heather said...

You must feel so sad and angry. I can understand that rabbit numbers need to be kept under control but that is not the way to do it. Farmers have always shot rabbits, crows, foxes and other species who cause them problems and that is quite acceptable but deliberately introducing a vile disease is not.

Mrs Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

Cannot agree more. I came across horrible scene of magpies pecking eyes of rabbit who was ill. I rescued it and my kind vet put it to sleep. I know wildlife needs to be controlled where man has taken away the predators, and yet - this is far too cruel, nature itself, though red in tooth and claw, gives swifter death than man does. Very sad. x

Cloudia said...

Yours is a human heart.
It heartens me to know you.


Crafty Green Poet said...

you're so right, it's horrible to see rabbits with myxy, whether you think of them as pests or pets

Barbara said...

Oh awful!
While it is true that our environment must be controlled to some degree and it is often difficult to find the balance between farm and wild, the introduction of disease is an awful idea. (whatever were they thinking?) I shudder to think what terrible sights farmers encounter and the painful deaths the poor creatures endure.
...and even though it's quite unsettling, I thank you for sharing.

ChrisJ said...

Incredibly inexcusable! What terrible disasters we have brought upon ourselves by tampering with Nature.

Em Parkinson said...

I don't see it much here thank goodness but it is just awful. I do wish we saw more rabbit in butcher's and supermarkets - it's such great meat.

Terry and Linda said...

Stuff like this makes me mad and sad. A vile disease is never the answer for anything or anyone!

I found your blog again! YAY!!!


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