The latest news from the wild rabbit

The National Bureau of Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) noted this: The number of wild rabbits has been declining globally for more than 25 years. Hunting groups were 13.5 million in 1974-1975, 6.4 million in 1983-1984 and 3.2 million in 1998-1999. Since then, the fall has continued. So much so that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the hares as a near-threatened species at the end of 2017!

Certainly, this organization is a follower of the precautionary principle. He sees the glass as half empty instead of the glass half full. But what an evolution of a game that was so prolific after World War II that it was ruined everywhere! With great evil the great means: it was the physician Armand Delele who, in 1952, wanted to eradicate the species on his estate of Maillebois (Eure-et-Loir), introduced the myxoma virus. From there, the virus was set to colonize all of Europe, including the UK, by wiping out the population, then the death rate was estimated to be 95%. A tragedy for fishermen but a boon for foresters and farmers. In his office, Dr. Armand-Delele proudly displayed his medal from the Department of Water and Forestry. Then the wild hare, which is a very hardy and breeding species, regains its health. Species Mithridatized against the virus. A rabbit whose head had been deformed due to illness, and whose eyes were filled with pus and swollen, was no longer dead again. In the end he was healed and only a few scars witnessed the terrible ordeal. It has even returned so much that it can be classified as a harmful species in certain departments.

Reasons for backtracking

But this improvement did not last long. Today, in some regions, the hare has become a rarity. In Normandy, for example, and more generally throughout the northwestern sector of the country. Why ? Pest status: Rabbits are likely to cause damage to crops and forest plantations. That is why it is categorized as malicious in many sections. The possibilities of destruction offered by this classification can damage it.

Predation: The rabbit is one of the main preys of many terrestrial predators. It is the fox in particular that sits in the hot seat. It crawls everywhere. Hunting candidates are becoming rarer and gorillas breed so much that we now see them in the heart of big cities.

Diseases: The three main agents that affect rabbits are myxomatosis, rabbit viral hemorrhagic disease (RHD) and coccidiosis. In western France, these three diseases appear to occur in nearly identical proportions. If, as we’ve seen, the fallout from myxoma are less today, the fallout from RHD could be very strong.

Habitat: In about fifty years, we’ve gone from a state where the rabbit was swarming to one where it was drooling. Species are confined to pockets somewhat isolated from each other where the environment has remained favorable and where the agricultural world tolerates their presence. These fragmented populations become even more vulnerable. Evolution of the environment: The evolution of the rural landscape has not been in favor of Jano. The increase in the average size of land plots, the destruction of hedges and orchards that used to be shelters, and the creation of crops highly sensitive to spoilage, has shaken it hard. Fishing communities interact by creating artificial, platform-based harbours. It is good for breeding. It is still necessary that when the rabbit leaves his five-star mansion, he finds a favorable environment.

in the city

Oddly enough, he sometimes finds such an environment in town. Not long ago, we saw loads of them in the rotisserie lawn of Porte Maillot in Paris. This roundabout, like dozens of other areas of the capital, is now under construction, end of the story.
We also saw it along the Ring Road and in the Bois de Boulogne where the municipality wiped out it. At some airports such as Roissy, densities were so high that action had to be taken. Same in public parks, in Bordeaux, where last spring the municipality snatched a few hundred.

In fact, the wild hare only asks to live as a quiet father. He needs grass, arid land, enough loose soil to dig burrows and burrows, not much disturbance and a few enemies. The hare lives on an area of ​​​​three or four hectares, exceptionally eight or ten.

It is estimated that a doe can give birth five or six times during the year. If you have six rabbits per litter, you can quickly get thirty new rabbits a year. If the environment is favorable and diseases remain episodic, the species can recover quickly
Lost land. Moreover, rabbits continue to crowd on certain coastal islands and once the environment becomes favorable again, the species explodes. Go gray!

Eric Joly

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