Rabbits, pets or pests
Rabbits are a common sight in the countryside and in peoples back gardens. Some are a childs adorable companion while others are seen as a pest, vermin to be removed or destroyed.Over the years there have been many ways in which authorities have attempted to curb the spread of rabbits. Australia is a country which has had some of the worst problems of what can be termed an invasive species. In response to the spread of rabbits they infected the population with myxomatosis in 1950. The disease, which causes tumours to grow around the eyes and genitals, depleted their population from around 600 million to 100 million in 2 years. Other countries followed suit in an attempt to curb the species.The release of myxomatosis in France in 1952 had a knock on effect as the disease spread into Spain. The drop in rabbit population caused by this led to decline in the population of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). L. pardinus is a rabbit specialist relying heaving on the European rabbit as a food source.Rabbit proof fencing is a much more humane way of controlling populations and habitats. While the introduction of fencing can prove to be incredibly traumatic to populations initially, as they learn to cope with a more restricted environment, in time the population will adapt to the new limitations and return to normal behaviours. In contrast shooting is also seen as a possible way of limiting the rabbit populations, while a headshot to an individual rabbit may not be traumatic for the individual, assuming instantanous death, it can be highly traumatic for the surround rabbits with trauma increasig as subsequant rabbits are culled. Chest shots are seen as even more traumatic as likliehood of gaining a kill shot is decreased from that of aiming for the head.While it is true that the rabbit can cause serious ecological issues as an invasive species, the moethods which are used to try and reduce their populations are horrendous at time. Their cost to agriculture and markets can be equally staggering with an estimated AU$130m to the Australian wool industry due to competition over grazing. Their does seem to be a reasonable solution in using rabbit proof fencing though, a high cost initially as well as trauma for the creatures until they adapt to the new range, but this may protect grazing land for the animals we intend it for.Regardless of how we adapt to protect our own interests, it would be nice to do so by causing as little harm as possible. In the end some people will still think of them as pests and/or food, while others will always see them as adoreable pets.