A large number of wild rabbits are hurtling towards Hunter Valley’s farming lands. The announcement has come after the area has experienced flooding rains that resulted in lush pastures.
Agriculture officials from New South Wales have said that the pasture growth in most areas in Upper Hunter in the month of December was above average. This excellent seasonal condition invited wild rabbits towards the area, causing concerns on its effect on farmers, ABC reports.
'Obviously, with the good season there's plenty of feed about, plenty of water about, and so they're sort of building at the moment,' Hunter Local Land Security Services biosecurity ranger Craig Cooks told ABC. He also alerted farmers, saying that they should not be complacent about measures in controlling the animals. He added that controlling their number should be made a priority.
However, control has become difficult recently. 'The problem that we find now is that there's so much green feed, it is really hard to poison rabbits,' Crooks said. Moreover, young rabbits have become immune to the deadly calicivirus – one of the viruses that was used to reduce Australia’s rabbit numbers. The other one was the Myxoma virus.
Crooks suggested that they should seek other methods to control the rabbits' population, such as other biological controls and fumigation. New South Wales' Hunter Local Land Services considers wild rabbits as the most destructive and widespread pest due to crop and pasture damage and economic losses that they caused through the years.
The rabbits that are European in origin were introduced in Victoria in 1778 when the First Fleet attempted to make the country similar to Europe. The animals were bred so that the owners could eventually hunt them. The rabbits spread across Victoria and in 1880 had crossed towards New South Wales. They also hopped towards South Australia, Queensland and South Australia after over a decade. The population of the wild rabbits even reached up to 10 billion in the 1920s.