Rabbit plagues in Australia

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European Rabbits in Australia 2004
Load of over 3,800 rabbits at Mudgee caught during 1918 plague
Rabbits around a waterhole at the myxomatosis trial enclosure on Wardang Island in 1938
Boy with rabbits caught during plague in 1949 near Kerang
Rabbits in Warren during a plague in 1949
Releasing the Myxoma Virus for Rabbits ca. 1937
Wild rabbit in Australia
Rabbit Proof Fence Australia in 2006

Rabbit plagues in Australia have occurred several times throughout parts of Australia since wild European rabbits were introduced by European colonists.[1]

Introduction[edit]

Rabbits were introduced to Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.[2] A population of 24 rabbits released near Geelong in 1859 to be hunted for sport. Within 50 years rabbits had spread throughout the most of the continent with devastating impact on indigenous flora and fauna.[3][2]

The species had spread throughout Victoria and by 1880 was found in New South Wales. Rabbits were found in South Australia and Queensland by 1886 and by 1890 were in eastern parts of Western Australia[2] and the Northern Territory in the 1900s. Feral rabbits were found throughout most of their current range by 1910.[4]

1800s[edit]

Large numbers of rabbits were reported around Geelong in 1869[5] and around Campebell Town in Tasmania later the same year.[6] A large scale plague occurred in 1871 throughout parts of Tasmania starting prior to March,[7] with farmers using strychnine in an attempt to control numbers[8] and continuing through to May of the same year.[9]

In 1876 a plague was reported in districts around Kapunda in South Australia[10] with a commission being established to find the cause and suitable methods of control of the problem.[11]

Areas between the Riverina through to the Mallee country[12] and Charlton were being plagued by large numbers of rabbits in 1877[13] and 1878.[14] The Rabbits Nuisance Suppression Bill was introduced into the Parliament of Victoria in an effort to combat the problem.[15] By 1878 and early 1879 the plague had spread into northern areas of South Australia[16][17] Numbers of rabbits in the affected areas were still considered problematic through the 1880s[18][19] and 1890s.

1900s[edit]

Large numbers of the pest were still found throughout parts of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia[20] and Western Australia[21] through the early 1900s while the areas were also gripped by drought.[20] After the drought broke in around 1904 numbers of rabbits and mice started to grow again in the same areas as well as parts of Queensland to plague proportions.[22][23][24][25][26]

Following a reduction in numbers during the drought of 1914 to 1915,[27] plagues of rabbits were reported in 1918 through parts of South Australia and western New South Wales.[28][29]

In 1932 and 1933 rabbits again bred up in large numbers in parts of New South Wales,[30][31] South Australian and Victoria causing massive damage to crops and feed.[32]

Field trials for the myxomatosis virus were carried out in 1936 by the CSIR Division of Animal Health and Nutrition, as a method of controlling rabbit population. The trials were successful in killing rabbits in their warrens but did not spread well between warrens.[33]

By 1946 another plague was being predicted by graziers following a drought breaking,[34] and numbers of rabbits started to rise in 1948 [35] and continue into 1949 and 1950[36] causing massive damage to crops in parts of New South Wales,[37] Victoria[38] and South Australia[39] in a plague described as the worst rabbit plague in Australia's history.[38][40]

The myxomatosis virus was released in 1950 to reduce pest rabbit numbers. It initially reduced the wild rabbit population by 95% but since then resistance to the virus has increased.[41]

2000s[edit]

Another plague occurred in 2011 in parts of South Australia, the worst that had occurred in Australia since the release of the calicivirus in 1995.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Myxomatosis to control rabbits". CSIROpedia. CSIRO. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Wendy Zukerman. "Australia's battle with the bunny". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Defining moments in Australian history". National Museum Australia. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  4. ^ "The Rabbit Problem". Rabbit Free Australia. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Current topics". Geelong Advertiser (6984). Victoria. 30 March 1869. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "The rabbit plague". The Mercury. XV (2708). Tasmania. 6 September 1869. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "The Mercury". The Mercury. XIX (3181). Tasmania. 4 March 1871. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Rabbits and their cause". The Mercury. XIX (3185). Tasmania. 9 March 1871. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Miscellaneous". The Tasmanian. I (17). Tasmania. 27 May 1871. p. 10. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ "THE RABBIT NUISANCE". Kapunda Herald and Northern Intelligencer. XII (844). South Australia. 21 July 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "The Rabbit Plague". Kapunda Herald and Northern Intelligencer. XII (845). South Australia. 25 July 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "Melbourne". Geelong Advertiser (9, 761). Victoria. 25 October 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "The Riberine Herald Echuca, Moama and Kerang Advertiser". Riverine Herald. XV (1633). New South Wales. 11 October 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "The Rabbit Plague". The Ballarat Star. XXIII (240). Victoria. 7 October 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ "Parliament". Geelong Advertiser (9, 761). Victoria. 25 October 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ "Farm & Station". The Week. VI (156). Brisbane. 21 December 1878. p. 5. Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "Political". The Argus (10, 173). Melbourne. 24 January 1879. p. 1 (The Argus Summary for Europe). Retrieved 14 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ "The Rabbit Plague". The Australasian. XXXI (802). Victoria. 13 August 1881. p. 6. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ "Rural notes and comments". Adelaide Observer. XXXIX (2123). 10 June 1882. p. 9. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ a b "Drought-slain rabbits". The Riverine Grazier. New South Wales. 8 January 1904. p. 4. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  21. ^ "Western Australia". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 January 1901. p. 9. Retrieved 16 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ "The rabbit question". The Register. LXIX (17, 836). Adelaide. 13 January 1904. p. 8. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  23. ^ "Local Jottings". Wellington Times (1548). New South Wales. 25 January 1904. p. 2. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  24. ^ "Alarming spread of rabbits". Western Champion. XXIII (4). New South Wales. 29 January 1904. p. 6. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ "Country news Booleroo Centre,". Petersburg Times. XVI (860). South Australia. 31 May 1904. p. 3. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ "Farm and Station rural notes". Western Mail. XIX (962). Western Australia. 4 June 1904. p. 4. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  27. ^ "Tumby Bay to Cowell". Eyre's Peninsula Tribune. VIII (398). South Australia. 18 January 1918. p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  28. ^ "Rabbit Plague Faced". Riverine Herald (13, 817) (Daily ed.). New South Wales. 20 June 1918. p. 2. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  29. ^ "Patches". Lachlander and Condobolin and Western Districts Recorder. XII (663). New South Wales. 3 July 1918. p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  30. ^ "The scene has changed". Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative. New South Wales. 8 June 1933. p. 4. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  31. ^ "Local and General". Gilgandra Weekly and Castlereagh. New South Wales. 22 June 1933. p. 4. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  32. ^ "Rabbit plague becoming worse". Recorder (10, 488). South Australia. 9 December 1932. p. 1. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  33. ^ "Myxomatosis to control rabbits". CSIROpedia. CSIRO. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  34. ^ "Exterminate Rabbits, Urge Graziers". The Argus (31, 068). Melbourne. 28 March 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  35. ^ "Inspector Issues Rabbit Warning". The Farmer & Settler. XLIII (36). New South Wales. 8 October 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  36. ^ "Rabbits winning "battle"". The Argus (32, 268). Melbourne. 1 February 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  37. ^ "Worst Rabbit Plague In N.W. For 30 Years". The Newcastle Sun (9649). New South Wales. 3 December 1948. p. 5. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  38. ^ a b "Rabbit plague at new peak". Tweed Daily. XXXVI (5). New South Wales. 6 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  39. ^ "The news editorial". The News. 52 (7, 942). Adelaide. 18 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  40. ^ "Rabbit plague the worst yet". The Dungog Chronicle: Durham and Gloucester Advertiser. New South Wales. 8 January 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 15 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  41. ^ "Myxomatosis". RSPCA. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  42. ^ Nigel Austin (21 August 2011). "Worst rabbit plague since 1995 could spiral out of control". The Advertiser. Retrieved 16 January 2018.