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The    Practical 9

Solution.    S Pests.



By W.    R




The Rabbit Pest in a Nutshell ..    4

The Spring Trap and Humane

Societies ..    ..    ..    ..    4

Poisoned Pollard and other Poods 5 Poisoned Water    ..    ..    ..    5

Commercial Utilization    ..    ..    6

Wire Netting and the Various

Governments    ..    ..    ..    6

The Rodier Plan    ..    ..    ..    7

Advantages of the Rodier Plan ..    8

Gentlemen Favourable to the Rodier

Plan ..    ..    ..    ..    8

Drawbacks ..    ..    ..    ..    10

Tambua ..    ..    ..    ..    10

Polygamy ..    ..    ..    ..    11

Scene: a Country School ..    .. 12

Four Methods of Catching Rabbits

Alive ..    ..    ..    ..    14

The Cobar District, N.S.W. ..    14

The Fox Pest    ..    ..    ..    15

The Blow-fly Pest    ..    ..    ..    15

The Grasshopper Pest    ..    ..    15

The Rats ..    ..    ..    ..    15

Unoccupied Crown Lands ..    ..    16

The State Governments ..    ..    16

Broughton Island    ..    ..    ..    17

Council of Advice ..    ..    17

Pastures Protection Boards of New

South Wales    ..    ..    ..    17

The Labour Party    ..    ..    ..    18

Pastoral Financing Firms and Banks 19 Australian Natives’ Association ..    19

Meat-Exporting Companies..    ..    19

Sheep in New South Wales ..    ..    20

The World’s Herds    ..    ..    ..    20

Lord Avebury, Mr. Deakin, and the

Birds ..    ..    ..    ..    20

The General Taxpayer    ..    ..    20

The Immigration Question ..    ..    21

The American Fleet..    ..    ..    21

What is Wanted    ..    .,    ..    21

General Remarks    ..    ..    ..    22

Bunny, C.M.G. -    ..    ..    ..    23

Challenge ..    ..    ..    ..    23


In bringing this matter again before yon I fully recognize that the Press wields immense power for good, and as the proper control of the rabbit is of paramount importance to Australia, I hereby ask you to bring your influence to bear on the several State Governments to appoint a board of scientific men to consider the question. When they have heard evidence and selected the best plan, then to give that plan a fair trial under natural conditions and over sufficiently large area to satisfy all parties. I am quite prepared to let the plan advocated herein stand in competition with all others, as it is an absolute certainty, and can be proven without any loss and pay a profit on the experiment. When my plan is proven with the rabbits, it will open up the way to the extermination of the rats, starlings, and other pests, as it is almost certain to apply to them also. There is no one question that will add more to the population of Australia than the extermination of the rabbit, and a big population is a country’s best defence. Please give as much publicity as you can.


Please read this pamphlet through, and if you agree with the plan here advocated, help it on, for your own personal benefit and for the benefit of Australia as a whole. If, on the other hand, you don’t agree with it, take up the challenge herein; and if you cannot see your way to do that, please don’t throw cold water on an honest attempt to cope with a national calamity, and a scheme you probably know very little about.


1.    The rabbits are polygamous.

2.    Because of being polygamous they have become a pest.

3.    This polygamy is chiefly caused by the use of the spring trap and poison cart.

4.    It is impossible for them to be a pest and at the same time polyandrous.

The spring trap and poison carts, and most other plans, kill more males than females. This causes the rabbits that are not caught to live in a polygamous state; because of being polygamous, the females are very much more prolific than they otherwise would be, and produce more females than males. Consequently anything that kills the males increases the pest, and acts in the same way as the proverbial snowball or the notorious chain letter, the longer they are continued the greater becomes the volume of the rabbits, and that is why the rabbits have spread from Southern Victoria well into Queensland and West Australia, in spite of the hundreds of thousands of millions that have been killed or died by the droughts. And they will spread till they reach the sea in every direction, if they are kept polygamous. The remedy is to make the rabbits polyandrous, and to do this only such plans as catch the rabbits alive should be used, then kill all females and liberate all males, and for convenience sake cut off half the near ear of all males let go, so that they will be known if caught a second time. By doing this the males will persecute the females that are not caught, and prevent them from breeding. They will also kill what young ones may be born, and when they largely exceed the females they will worry the remaining ones to death, and so by this means all the breeders are got rid of, and when that is done the males will die off by old age and their natural enemies, and so complete and entire extermination is brought about without any fear of disease or other drawbacks, and at a small cost.


The rabbit pest in Australia can be put down to the use of the spring trap, as it was the use of this trap that originally caused the whole of the trouble; and since then it has been kept going by the use of poisons, the chief of which is the poison cart. The reason is that both these plans kill more males than females, and cause polygamy. The bucks make what are known as buck-heaps, and this is where the traps are generally set, so that the bucks get caught. Oftentimes when a trapper catches a doe in young he lets her go again; also when he catches a marketable doe, after killing her he takes out the bladder and rubs it about the trap, which causes the bucks to be caught; and as it is in the interests of the trapper to keep the rabbits going, he does this by killing as many males as he can and letting go the females that are not marketable. The males are the best marketable rabbits and bring bigger prices than the females. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 27th October, 1904, is an article on the rabbit question by Mr. Cuthbert Fethers-tonhaugh, and quoting from an Australian book, ‘ ‘ Bright Eyes and the Whirlwind,” the writer, who was at one time rabbiting, admits to letting go the females and having caught 500 bucks on the buck-pads before catching one doe or kitten. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 1st November, 1904, is another article on rabbits by Mr. Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, and he quotes this as an axiom :—“ If you want to perpetuate the pest, employ trappers.” Mr. Coleman Phillips, of New Zealand, in the Sydney Stock

Journal of 22nd February, 1907, says :—“The female rabbit keeps out of any trap she can, whereas the bucks are readily caught. ’ ’ Exactly ! that is the gist of the whole question—viz.,

‘ ‘ because the bucks are readily caught ’ ’ the rabbit has become a pest. Of all the cruel and inhuman means of catching rabbits this is the worst, as the poor brutes in many instances are kept with broken legs in the traps for many hours. I didn’t suppose it is too much to say that in Australia during five months of the year fully 50,000 unfortunate rabbits are caught in spring traps every night, and kept there for hours with broken legs and suffering agony. What are the various Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Associations doing to allow such a state of affairs to exist? It is a foolish plan for the trapper, as it kills a lot of small, unmarketable rabbits, and damages with broken legs a lot more. Why not use a good cage trap, such as the Tambua trap, and catch the rabbits alive, kill and bleed all marketable rabbits, and let the small ones go alive to grow ? If the trapper wants to increase them he can do this by letting as many females go as he likes without broken legs. The more males he kills the quicker they increase. Altogether the spring trap is the most cruel and idiotic thing that can be used, from whatever point of view one may look at it.


Poisons of one kind of another are largely used for getting rid of the rabbits in the winter time, the chief of which is poisoned pollard. I don’t think one instance can be shown where this plan has been a success over a fair-sized area of country, and yet there are probably thousands of cases where it has failed. In fact, on large areas, where the rabbits have got a get-away, it increases the pest. On small areas, where the rabbits have not got a get-away, and are jammed up against a netting fence, the most it will do is to keep them within bounds, but it must be fairly open country to do this. It is a plan better left alone, as it does such a lot of harm otherwise, the chief of which is that it keeps the rabbits polygamous and thereby increases them. It also kills a lot of stock, as many instances have been known where great numbers of sheep and other stock have lost their lives. It also kills a lot of birds, and otherwise does a lot of harm, and yet one never hears any protest from the Ornithological Societies about the wholesale destruction of birds by the use of poisons for rabbits, or from the Humane Societies in regard to the wanton cruelty caused by eating poisoned food. There is little doubt that the practice of laying out poisoned food is only second in folly to the spring trap, and these two stupid and cruel means of rabbit destruction ought to be prohibited. It is an awful farce trying to get rid of a small graminivorous animal such as the rabbit with a poisoned food, and at the same time trying to keep bigger graminivorous animals, such as sheep, cattle, &c., on the same country. Needless to say, the sheep suffer considerably, and the revenue is lessened. The poisoned food method has failed so many hundreds of times that it ought to be abolished, especially as the cases where the rabbit has been overcome have been by other means than poisons.


This is the generally accepted method of destruction that is followed when the country is so dry that the rabbits come in to the water to drink, and where it is capable of being used. No doubt it kills great numbers, as the following results will show :—In the summer of 1905-6, in the Cobar district of New South Wales, 66,000 were poisoned at one tank in 10 nights; at another, 60,000 during the summer; at another tank, 40,000 and 30,000 was of frequent occurrence to poison at one tank during the summer of 1905-6. At another tank, not in the Cobar district, 22,000 were poisoned in two nights, and at another 15,000 in one night. Averaging the above at 350 rabbits to the drayload, then in the first instance 188 drayloads of rabbits were carted away from one tank as a result of 10 nights’ poisoning. Probably there were 10 or 15 per cent, more that were not gathered up. When you take into consideration that, before the rabbits come in to the water in such enormous numbers, probably two died in the bush from actual starvation to every one that gets poisoned at the water, it shows what the rabbits must have been. Needless to say that poison carts had previously been used—hence the enormous numbers—and that the poor unfortunate sheep were starving and had to be removed or artificially fed. Poisoned water also kills great numbers of natural enemies of the rabbit, such as iguanas, native cats, and domestic cats gone wild. As iguanas are protected by law in New South Wales, and, I think, in other States, anyone who puts out poisoned water ought to be prosecuted for killing the natural enemies, as it is prim a facie evidence they intend to do so by putting out poisoned water. Unfortunately, the law is not upheld, and the destruction of the natural enemies goes on in a wholesale manner. It is a foolish plan to use, and is only effective in very dry times, and when feed is scarce; and to have to wait till that occurs, and the sheep are dying, is very short-sighted policy. What is wanted is a plant that will get rid of the rabbit when there is green feed, and the only plan that will do that is an excess of males.    Instead of using poisoned

water, the tanks should be netted in and tank-trapping followed, and the males let go alive and the females killed. Under the present conditions, and after a hard summer’s poisoning, the rabbits are greatly reduced, but the balance of the sexes left in the bush is not altered, and in consequence when the rains come they breed up rapidly again.    Whereas by letting go the males alive the balance of the sexes is altered and they don’t breed nearly so quickly, and if the same plan is followed during the winter, until the males exceed the females, the question is solved once and for all time. Of all the stupid things a station manager can be guilty of it is to fence in a large area of country, use the poison cart and other means inside that area in the winter, and thereby increase the rabbits, and when the dry weather sets in poison the rabbits in thousands at the tanks and brag about the numbers that are killed. Now, that is what has been done, and probably will be done in the future, in thousands of cases in Australia. Why have the rabbits at all ? What good are they to the pastoralists I


There is little doubt that the rabbit trade supports a good many people, as the flesh and skins are exported in great quantities, and large numbers are used locally. Now, the plan advocated by me will not do away with this trade, but will relieve those people who can make more money out of sheep and cattle than they can out of rabbits. A lot of people say that the rabbit is the poor man’s food. This is all nonsense, as the poor man likes a good beefsteak or mutton chop as well as anyone else, and could get it at a less price per lb. than is paid at present for the rabbit if the latter were got rid of. Not only that, but the mutton and beef could be produced at a profit, because it is easier and cheaper to produce 100 tons of mutton, beef, or wool than it is to produce 100 tons of rabbit flesh or fur, and the former can be produced at a profit, whereas the latter is produced at a loss, and the profits made from sheep or cattle are used to try and get rid of the rabbit, so that more stock can be kept. The reason that the rabbit trade flourishes at the expense of the sheep is because the man on the land is stupid enough to think that the professional rabbiter will get rid of the rabbits at no cost to himself, and make his wages out of the rabbit. He certainly will do the latter, but at the expense of the landowner, as he increases the pest by killing as many males as he can, as the males are the better rabbits, and bring more money, and are easier caught. The rabbit trade could be put on sound lines and carried on on the unoccupied lands of the State, or on any other lands the owners of which think they can make more money out of the rabbit than they can out of sheep or cattle, and the Government could net these lands in and charge 7 per cent, on the cost as rent —4 per cent, for interest and 3 per cent, sinking fund—and the unoccupied lands of the State by this means would return some revenue to the State instead of, as at present, being a menace. The rabbiter could always depend upon a supply of rabbits by keeping them polygamous, and if he used the Tarnbua trap to catch them alive he need not kill the little ones or break their legs, but could let them go to grow, and thus utilize them for future use, and carry on his business on sound commercial lines, as it is foolish to have to destroy a lot of small rabbits owing to using plans that kill or maim them to catch them. The day will yet come when prizes will be offered at our Agricultural Shows for the best breed of rabbits suitable for market. Any animal that is worth keeping for profit is worth improving, and if the rabbit won’t pay to improve, same as sheep, fowls, &c., he should be wiped completely out of existence. There is little doubt that the rabbit will pay to improve and farm properly, and the sooner the landowners of Australia look upon this question reasonably, and recognize the fact that what to them is poison is another man’s food, the sooner will this question get properly settled.


A great many people consider that wire netting is absolutely necessary for the extermination of rabbits. No doubt it is on small areas surrounded by people who use poisons and other stupid means for the destruction of the rabbits, but as a general means of rabbit destruction it is totally unnecessary, and is an enormous expense which can be dispensed with. Speaking in a broad sense, every £1 spent in netting returns about 5s., so there is a loss of fully 15s. in the £1 on money spent in netting, without allowing for the cost of maintenance. If the cost of netting in every holding in Australia were estimated and 10 per cent, per annum of the amount were spent in destroying rabbits under the Rodier method for three or four years, the rabbits would practically be a thing of the past. The difficulty lies in getting unity of action, and this is because no practical scheme has been demonstrated. As soon as any practical scheme becomes known it will be followed generally, and all the cost and maintenance of netting will be done away with. One good thing about netting is that pit-traps can be put along it, and the rabbits caught alive, and the males let go; yet very few if any people adopt this sensible plan, but continue on with the antiquated and fossilized idea of killing all they catch. Netting fencing will not only keep rabbits out, if a good fence and properly looked after, but it will keep rabbits in, and if there is a foolish thing in this world it is to net in an area of country, use poison carts or other stupid means that increase the pest, and when the summer comes poison off the rabbits in tens of thousands at the water and then brag about the numbers that are killed. Why have the rabbits at all ? Prevention is better than cure. The Government of Victoria have lately accepted tenders for 2,500 miles of netting to be sold to the smaller landholders upon easy terms. This netting at a low estimate - will cost about £35 per mile by the time it is carted to the different holdings and erected and the fences repaired and put in proper order so that they will be fit to carry the netting, added to which there will be a maintenance cost of fully £1 per mile per annum. Assuming that the average area that is netted in is 320 acres, which will take about 1^ miles of netting, then this netting will be sufficient for about 530,000 acres, which will cost £87,500. Now, this amount, at 4 per cent, interest, with a sinking fund of 4 per cent., means an expenditure of £7,000 per annum for about 18 years. Add to this the £1 per mile maintenance, which brings the total annual expenditure up to £9,500 per annum for about 18 years, and does not include the cost of rabbit destruction. So that the total cost, extending over 18 years, to the farmers for wire netting alone will be £171,000. Add to this, say, 10s. per acre for digging out and destroying all cover, which is £265,000, or a total of £436,000, and at the end of the 18 years there is no guarantee that the outside country won’t be thickly infested, and owing to the netting becoming worn out and neglected the whole area may be again overrun with rabbits. No wonder Australia cannot compete in the markets of the world, when its land is handicapped like this and lags behind for want of population. Now, all the foregoing expenditure is incurred just because the man on the land won’t get over his prejudice and liberate the males, as the whole thing could be done with practically little or no expense, as 3d. per acre per annum for three or four years will do all that is required, and the farmer and his boys could do the work in their spare time as sport, and utilize the females that are caught as food for the fowls and the pigs, and in this way the cost would be practically nil. All they want is a few traps to catch the rabbits alive and uninjured out of the burrows, then kill the females and let the males go after cutting off half of the near ear. If the farmers won’t do this then let them suffer the pest, as they are solely responsible for the rabbit being a pest by the killing of the males, and the sooner they realize this fact the better for themselves and Australia as a whole. The Governments of the other States have spent enormous sums in wire netting, and I should say fully 10 to 15 millions of money has been spent in wire netting, both publicly and privately throughout Australia, and yet not one decent experiment, otherwise than disease, has ever been made. If a properly netted area were taken and a plan like the one advocated by me given a fair trial, the result would be convincing, and the enormous waste of money going on would be stopped. The various State Governments are like so many Neros fiddling whilst their different Romes are burning, as they ought to at once form an experimental station and find out what is the proper means of rabbit destruction, and stop the enormous waste of money going on.


There are lots of people who say that this plan is not practicable. Of course, only those who have never tried it, and don’t know anything about it say this, as it is the only plan which will answer all requirements and stand the test of time. The way to work it is as follows :—Get a reliable man and pay him weekly wages; give him about 200 good burrow traps, according to the class of country, say the Tambua trap; also 8 to 12 dogs, a shovel, tomahawk, and camp requisites. Then, by setting the traps at the mouths of the warrens, the rabbits will be caught alive out of them (this does not kill the natural enemies). The females should be killed and the males let go, after cutting off half of the near ear. The full scalp of the females and the half-ear of the males are brought home and strung up on wires to be counted and burnt later on. With the dogs hunting can be followed, going from warren to warren, and with a little trouble the dogs can be educated not to kill a rabbit, but carry it alive to the rabbiter. Sheep-dogs or retrievers are preferable for this. The small burrows and cover-ups are dug out, and the traps carried from warren to warren as desired. When it gets too hot to work the dogs (which in the Western Division of New South Wales is only about three months in the year—but with enough dogs to have different packs this can be overcome a lot by working early and late), the camp can be shifted to the tanks and tanktrapping commenced, and the females caught at the tanks will do for food for the dogs. One man in this way can work in the cool weather from 3 to 4 miles from his camp in every direction, and in the summer time three or four tanks by shifting camp every week to another tank, thus allowing the rabbits to accumulate again, as about four to six days at one tank is enough at one time. The only netting that is necessary is enough to fence in the water for tank-trapping. By this means the Rodier plan can be kept going all the year round, wet or dry, hot or cold, and will show better results for every £1 spent upon it than any plan yet known, as the only expenditure is for labour, after the traps are got, as there is not any material consumed. Where there is any netting fencing pit traps can be put down and the rabbits caught alive and the males liberated, but netting is not a necessity as a general measure of destruction. The solution of the rabbit question is in the killing as many females as possible and preventing those females that are not caught from breeding till they are caught or killed by the males, and to do this you must not kill any males, as the greater the percentage of males to the females the less will be the breeding, and the fewer the grand total of rabbits. Where a female rabbit can go to have her nest, there the male can go to scratch it out and kill the young ones, and they will do this if they are in excess of the females. By following this plan in the country where they can be caught, the males will go into the roughest and most inaccessible places, where the females cannot be caught, and exterminate them out of it. The Rodier plan won’t work a miracle, and anyone expecting it to do so will be disappointed. All I claim for it is that it is a cheap and effectual means of exterminating the rabbits out of the whole of Australia, and without any drawbacks, or the aid of netting fencing, and at a moderate cost. If it could be got going over one-half of the country the rabbits could be exterminated, not only out of the places worked, but out of the other half also, without the other half doing anything, provided that the places following the plan were scattered somewhat evenly throughout the country. I would strongly advise anyone following this plan to make up their minds to continue same until they were absolutely certain that the males exceeded the females, or else leave it alone altogether. This plan will do as much as the enthusiasts first claimed for dis-’ ease, and do it cheaper and better.


1.    It won’t introduce any foreign disease.

2.    It won’t cultivate or intensify any existing disease.

3.    It won’t introduce any foreign matter or animal.

4.    It won’t set fire to the grass.

5.    It won’t kill any stock, birds, bees, or natural enemies of the rabbit.

6.    It won’t contaminate the water supply with poisoned rabbits.

7.    It won’t injure the health, or be dangerous to the workmen.

8.    It won’t kill the rabbit export trade.

9.    It is a very simple plan.

10.    It is the quickest.

11.    It is the most humane.

12.    It can be commenced almost simultaneously all over Australia without much delay.

13.    It is suitable to all classes of country and climate.

14.    It will extend to other lands than those actually worked.

15.    It is an Australian scheme.

16.    It is confined solely to the rabbit.

17.    The rabbits that are killed are good for food.

18.    The larger the area it is worked upon, other things being equal, the less the cost per acre.

19.    That it gains in strength as it progresses until extermination is achieved.

20.    The kernel to the nut is that it is effective.

21.    Last, but not least, it is the cheapest.

The following gentlemen think so favourably of the Rodier method that they consider it should get a fair trial :—

1. P. L. Sclater, Royal Zoological Society, London.

2.    W. B. Tegetmeier, London.

3.    Professor Anderson Stuart, University, Sydney.

4.    R. Etheridge, Museum, Sydney.

5.    A. Le Souef, Zoological Gardens, Sydney.

6.    Thos. Steel, F.L.S., Sydney.

7.    Dr. Andrew Ross, Sydney.

8.    Dr. Letcher, Cobar, N.S.W.

9.    Dr. Robinson, late of Cobar, N.S.W.

10.    W. H. D. Le Souef, Zoological Gardens, Victoria.

11.    Dr. Bull, University, Melbourne.

12.    Dr. G. T. Howard, North Carlton, Melbourne.

13.    Dr. Springthorpe, Collins-street, Melbourne.

14.    Dr. Chas. Ryan, Collins-street, Melbourne.

15.    Dr. Maloney, Elizabeth-street, Melbourne.

16.    Dr. Woinarski, North Melbourne.

17.    Professor Pound, Brisbane.

18.    C. W. De Vis, Museum, Brisbane.

19.    A. C. Minchin, Zoological Gardens, Adelaide.

Darwin, in “ Origin of Species,” chapter on “Sexual Selection,” says :— “ This leads me to say a few words on what I have called sexual selection. This form of selection depends, not on a struggle for existence in relation to other organic beings, or to external conditions, but to a struggle between • the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for possession of the other sex. The result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring.”

I don’t suppose there is a medical man in the world but would say that the principle is sound theoretically. Why not get it a practical trial ?

Extract from Nature, 21st March, 1889, a scientific magazine published in London, expressing the opinion of Mr. Philip Lutley Sclater, M.A., F.R.S., London :—


Mr. W. Rodier, of Tambua, Cobai, New South Wales, has forwarded to this Society a printed sheet containing, as it appears to me, by far the best suggestion yet made for the extermination of rabbits—a subject to which my attention has been repeatedly called by various correspondents in the Australian colonies, where, as is well known, the damage done by these animals is enormous. Mr. Rodier states that his plan has been in operation at his station in New South Wales for about eight months, “ with the utmost possible success,” and has cleared the country of rabbits. It is a very simple plan. Ferrets and nets are used in the usual way to capture the rabbits, but while all the females taken are destroyed, the males are turned out again uninjured.

The results of this mode of operation are that the male rabbits, as soon as they begin to predominate in numbers, persecute the females with their attentions, and prevent them from breeding. They also kill the young rabbits that happen to be born, and even, as Mr. Rodier asserts, when they largely predominate in numbers, ‘ ‘ worry the remaining does to death. ’ ’ This is all strictly in accordance with what we know takes place under similar circumstances in the case of other animals, so that we can readily believe it to be likely to happen.

The ordinary mode of trapping, as Mr. Rodier points out, is more likely to increase the number of rabbits than to diminish them. For reasons which he clearly explains, more buck rabbits are always killed by the trappers than does. Thus the does predominate in numbers, and a fewT bucks being sufficient for a large number of does, are perpetually breeding and increasing the stock.

The plan advocated by Mr. Rodier is so simple and easy that I cannot doubt it will be widely followed when known. No disease that might otherwise cause injury is introduced; no other noxious animal is proposed to be imported, but advantage is taken of the well-known natural laws which regulate the increase of life to effect in this instance a salutary decrease. r    P. L. SCLATER.

Zoological Society of London,

3 Hanover Square, W.,

18th March, 1889.

The following endorsement was received from Mr. Sclater six years later :—

Zoological Society of London,

3 Hanover Square, London, W., 24th October, 1895. Telegraphic Address :

“Zoological, London.”

Dear Sir,—I thank you for your letter and the copy of your article on the cure for “ The Rabbit Pest,” in the Sydney Stock Journal.

I quite agree with you that the plan which you advocate is the only Sensible one yet put forward.

Yours faithfully,

P. L. SCLATER, Secretary.

Wm. Rodier, Esq.,

Tambua Station, Cobar, N.S.W.

The following endorsement was received from Mr. Sclater thirteen years after first letter, favourable to this method of destruction :—

Zoological Society of London,

3 Hanover Square, London, W.,

21st November, 1902. Telegraphic Address :

“Zoological, London.”

Sir,—Mr. Sclater desires me to thank you for your letter of 19th April, and for the copies of your paper on “The Rabbit Pest.” Mr. Sclater quite coincides with your views on the subject, as you will see by his article in Nature, of which he sends you a copy by this mail.

Mr. Sclater has also written to the Agent-General for New South Wales on the same subject.

Yours obediently,

G. A. DOUBLEDAY. W. Rodier, Esq.

Scientific English journal, Nature, 13th November, 1902.


It was hoped and expected that the long-continued drought which has prevailed throughout eastern Australia for the last six years would at least have had a good influence in subduing the rabbit pest, but such does not seem to have been the case. The rabbits, like all other living animals, have suffered severely in certain dstricts, but on the least mitigation of the drought they quickly recover themselves, and become as numerous and as destructive as ever. Large tracts of country, formerly able to maintain sheep, have been abandoned, we are told, on account of the rabbit pest, and have gone to waste in consequence of the futility of the various schemes that have been tried for the mitigation of this frightful evil.

In these circumstances, Mr. William Rodier, of Tambua station, Cobar, New South Wales, has done well to reprint the pamphlet on this subject to which we directed attention on a former occasion (Nature, 21st March, 1889), and to explain more fully the very simple and efficacious method by which he proposes to deal with the rabbit pest. Had the scheme put forward by Mr. Rodier been adopted when it was first suggested, we do not doubt that the success which it has met with on his own station would have followed it elsewhere. But, as we all know too well, the prophet has little honour in his own country, and, instead of following Mr. Rodier’s excellent advice, the authorities have tried various other schemes that have in many cases only had the effect of augmenting the evil.

Mr. Rodier’s plan for combating the rabbit pest is very simple. It is based on the well-known law of nature that polygamy is favourable to the increase of offspring and polyandry is unfavourable. Rabbits usually live in a polygamous state. One male impregnates a number of females and produces a large offspring. Mr. Rodier proposes to convert this polygamy into polyandry by catching the rabbits alive and killing all the females, while all the males are turned out again. If this is done, the male rabbits become more numerous than the females, harass the females by their constant attentions, and injure their powers of breeding. Thus the offspring becomes continually less numerous. That this result will follow is illustrated by other facts well known to science.

The ordinary course pursued in trapping rabbits, in which all that are caught are killed, so far from diminishing the evil, is much more likely to increase it. The great majority of the rabbits captured are sure to be males, because the male rabbits have the habit of congregating in certain spots called “buck-heaps.” In these spots they, are easily caught by the trappers, who are, of course, only anxious to kill as many as possible and to obtain the fees offered for their destruction by

fair trial (as it cannot possibly fail) and be a benefit to every taxpayer in the Commonwealth in the reduction in the price of meat, &c., and give a great amount of employment at a high rate of wages to a great many people. It will put more people on the land and help on the defence question more than any one question before the people of Australia to-day. The best defence a country can have is a big population.


Tambua is a leasehold area of country, 64,000 acres, about 40 miles west of Cobar, N.S.W., very rough and hilly and of low carrying capacity, with creeks and watercourses everywhere, and only about 4,000 acres that can be considered level country. It is so rough that in riding the boundaries the horse has to he led down the hills in many places. It is practically impossible to keep any netting fence rabbit proof. The Rodier plan has been followed for rabbits since March, 1888, and in 1891 the place was netted in, enclosing thousands of rabbits. In 1895 I had the biggest wool clip that ever left the station, and it was the only place west of Cobar selling fat stock to the local butchers. On the surrounding country the rabbits were very thick. From 1896 to 1902 was the time of the big drought, which reduced the rabbits to a minimum in the district—so much so that at the end of 1902, when the drought broke, there was scarcely a rabbit to be seen for many miles in any direction. Yet in October, 1905, the surrounding holdings were eaten out, and Tambua was an island of grass surrounded by a sea of starvation. Yet I suppose in every instance more rabbits were killed or died from starvation in 1903, 1904, and 1905 in the surrounding holdings than were killed on Tambua. In December, 1905, I took between 9,000 and 10,000 sheep for agistment on Tambua and Mulga Downs, also a lot of horses that were running the Wil-cannia line of coaches. The reason I was unable to demonstrate the plan long enough to convince people that would not come to see it was the fact that the fence when put to the test would not hold back the enormous numbers of starving rabbits that were on the other side of the fence, owing to large mesh and poor fence generally. During the summer of 1905-6 I suppose, what with the rabbits I killed and what died of starvation on the outside of the fence, there must have been 250,000. In one instance I poisoned with a small trough 25,000 rabbits on the neighbours’ country, just because they would not do it. This was done to try and prevent some of them getting into Tambua, and no doubt it stopped a good many; but they came on to the good feed in such numbers that it was impossible to cope with them. Owing to the fact that I found it impossible in such rough country and with such poor fences to demonstrate the plan long enough to Convince outsiders who never

the Rabbit Acts. Thus the males become diminished in numbers and the breed becomes increased. Various other modes of combating the rabbit pest have been tried in Australia, but all alike have proved to be failures. Poisons of different descriptions have been much used. This is done by spreading poisoned grain about the runs of the rabbits or by poisoning the water-tanks. But poison has not turned out successful, and there is besides great objection to the employment of such a dangerous agent in any case.

The introduction of some infectious disease to kill the rabbits has also been advocated, and even tried in certain districts, but it has not succeeded. In this instance even Pasteur attained no definite result.

In these circumstances, Mr. Rodier’s plan, as set forth in his pamphlet, which is certainly theoretically correct, ought to be tried by the authorities on a large scale. It would be easy to fence round a few thousand acres in one of the worst districts and see what effect will be produced by capturing the rabbits alive and killing only the females. Mr. Rodier tells us that his plan has succeeded well at Tambua station, and there is every reason to suppose that it would succeed elsewhere if it were properly tried.

Extract from the English newspaper Field, 23rd March, 1889

That this result would happen is in accordance with what is known to take place in coursing districts where there is a superabundance of males left at the end of the coursing season, when it is found absolutely necessary to destroy the excess to ensure a supply during the coming season.



There are two great drawbacks to the Rodier method which up to the present have proven stumbling-blocks to its general acceptance. The first is its simplicity, as people cannot imagine that such a simple plan can be of any use. They are like Naaman—they want some elaborate scheme; but if, like Naaman, they will give the simple plan a fair trial they will find it will do everything they want. The second drawback is the fact that I am an Australian, as there is a big class of people who cannot think that the solution of this great difficulty can be found out by an Australian. It is the old saying about a ‘ ‘ prophet in his own country, ’ ’ &c. They forget that Australians have held their own in most things in competition with the world, and that, as this rabbit pest is an Australian trouble, that the most likely person to find out the solution is one that has been living amongst them, and had to deal with the difficulty. Now, these two drawbacks have up to the present been sufficient to stop the plan from getting a fair show, but how long they are going to continue doing so remains to be seen. If there is any patriotism and love of their country amongst the Australians they will get this plan a

came to the place, I decided to give    done. I now ask for a fair trial

the place up, and invited the mort-    under natural conditions and with

gagee to take possession, which was good 1^-mesh netting.

The above photo, was taken at Tambua in October, 1905, and shows the two sides of a netting fence. On the grassy side the Rodier method of rabbit destruction was followed, and on the bare side poisons, traps, &c. When it is taken into consideration that the whole of the district was devoid of rabbits from the effects of the seven years’ drought which ended about the end of 1902, and that all places had a fair start from that day (when lovely feed came all over the district), and that after 2|- years the results were as shown in this photo., it speaks volumes for the success of the plan. When it is known that both holdings are netted in and that the bare holding has a carrying capacity of, say, twice the grassy side, and that for the years, 1903, 1904, 1905, fully 10 rabbits were killed off it to one on Tambua, what more need be said ? In the summer of 1905-6 Tambua was an island of grass surrounded by a sea of starvation.


It is a curious fact, nevertheless a true one, that all animals that are kept by man for profit are kept in a polygamous state, such as sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, goats, or fowls. Anyone who kept these animals polyandrous and at the same time for profit would be looked upon as a fool. Now, if the stock-breeders of Australia understood why this was so they would at once agree with me on the rabbit question, but they don’t. They keep their stock polygamous because it is the custom to do so, and because their fathers did so before them, and their forefathers for many generations have done the same. It is a custom that has stood the test of time and proven successful everywhere. Taken as a class the man on the land no more understands the reason why they keep their stock polygamous than they understand how it is a telegram is sent. They go into an office and write the telegram and put down the money. They know the telegram will go, and they know that they will get a' good increase from their ewes and other stock if they put in a small number of males, but why it is so they don’t know. If they did they must agree that the opposite—viz., an increase of males—tends to a lesser increase, and agree with me on the rabbit question. In sheep fully 98 per cent, of the ram lambs that are born are castrated, and only from 1 to 2 per cent, put with the ewes for 5 or 6 weeks each year, and, feed being good, the result is a good lambing. Put 20 per cent, of rams with the ewes, and the lambing will be less, and the more rams that are put with the ewes, other conditions being equal, the less will be the percentage of lambs. The same thing applies to the rabbits, as they are both graminivorous and gregarious animals, and I think it will be found to apply to all gregarious animals and birds; it certainly does to fowls. Why not apply the same principle to all small animals and birds that are a pest, and wipe them out of existence. Unfortunately, the man on the land won’t take the trouble to find out if the rabbits are polygamous, but goes on slaughtering in a wholesale manner without considering which sex he kills, and as most plans have a tendency to kill a greater percentage of the males in the bush than they do females, the rabbits actually increase rather than decrease under some of the methods used, such as _ spring traps, poison carts, other poisons, &c. Where rabbits are in equal sexes the pit traps should catch about 125 males to 100 females, and tank trapping about the same, whereas if they are caught at the warrens about 120 females should be caught to every 100 males, consequently any plan that works at the warrens does good, even if all are killed; but these plans are expensive, and kill the natural enemies, and are only fit for winter time and small areas, and have many other drawbacks. To get the maximum amount of good the rabbits should be caught alive and the males let go, and then they can go into the unoccupied Crown lands and get rid of the females out of these lands without any cost. It is far better to fight a pest on your neighbour’s country than wait and fight it on your own. Now, what people have got to do is to get into the habit of catching the rabbits alive, and killing only the females, and if they won’t do this, and continue killing an excess of males, they must suffer the pest, but as long as they thoroughly understand the fact that it is their own fault (which they don’t), and they have only themselves to blame, well and good. All that man has got to do is to keep the males in excess of the females, and Nature will do the rest. Nature is trying her level best to equal up the sexes, as this is the natural condition the rabbits should be in, but the man on the land won’t allow Nature to do this, as he keeps the rabbits polygamous by the. plans he uses to kill them, and so they increase. Help Nature to equal up the sexes by killing only the females, and then go further and get the males._in excess, and the rabbit will be a thing of the past. I don’t suppose there is a medical man in the world but what will say this is theoretically sound. There is another side to the question, and that is because the rabbits are kept polygamous they produce more females than males. This, I think, will be found to be the case with fowls, and it certainly is with sheep, as generally there are more ewe lambs born than ram lambs, but with sheep the conditions are not the same, as the rams are only kept in about five or six weeks; were they kept in all the year round I think the increase of females in proportion to the males would be even greater. In fowls and rabbits the sexes are kept together all the year round. As far as my experience goes with cattle it is correct, as there are more heifer than bull calves born. It is not likely to occur with the first mating, but after several years I think it becomes established, and in my opinion that is the cause of the enormous increase in the rabbit, as there is little doubt that very many more females are born than males. Why not give It a fair trial practically ?


Summary of Rabbits Caught at Tambua, Cobar, N.S.W., Showing Relative Numbers of Each Sex.


Method of Catching.




Relative numbers of each sex.

12 years and 3 months


All methods - catching




65.45 males to 100 females

to end of









53.4 „ „





58.7 „ .,





64.2 „ „





66.0 „ „


Pit traps









85.0 „ „


Tank trapping




69.16 „ „





80.05 „ „




66.88 „ „

Time, 16 years and 3 months. Area, 64,000 acres. Rabbiting means hunting with slow dogs or carriers, digging out the cover-ups and small burrows, and setting the Tambua traps at the warrens, thus catching the rabbits alive. All females are killed, and all males let go alive, after cutting off half of the near ear. Nest rabbits not counted. Croppies (that is, liberated males) not counted a second time. The cause of the increase is the enormous numbers of starving rabbits coming from the adjoining holdings into the good feed on Tambua. The above return abundantly proves that the rabbits are polygamous.

Further Evidence to Prove that the Rabbits are Polygamous.




Males to 100 Females.


Person Giving Return.



















efe\ E. Allan,


' 60



r Chief Vermin Inspector,



















Rochester Express, 16/2/06




5 Males

to 100 F






Mr. J. Br

own, Sussex, Cobar, 27/2/92

* One holding, different paddocks.

The above return shows 5 males to 100 females, or just about enough to cause the maximum increase. If it is the same all through Victoria, it is

little wonder the rabbit is a pest. I shall be glad to have any other reliable returns showing the numbers of each sex and the method of catching.


Schoolmaster.—Now, boys, can any of you give me an illustration of what is meant by the acme of stupidity ?

1st Boy.—Winking at a pretty girl in the dark.

Schoolmaster.—I want a better illustration than that.

2nd Boy.—Trying to do business without advertising.

Schoolmaster.—That is better, but I want a better one.

3rd Boy.—Spending your last shilling to buy a purse.


Schoolmaster.—That is better. Can anyone give a better one ?

4th Boy.—I know, sir; trying to exterminate rabbits and at the same time keeping them polygamous.

Schoolmaster.—Right you are, my lad. That is the best illustration you could have possibly given, as it is in practice more or less all over the Commonwealth and New Zealand at the present time.


(Rodier’s Method.)


Original Rabbits.







Average 2 1st Pens Against 2 2nd Pens.

Average Females Born to Males.

Put In.

Taken Out.
















4-5-^ 11

3 to 1 nearly


' 6

















0 2


2 to I

















ered a












Time, eight months. The averages are calculated upon the rabbits taken out of the pens. ■ The increase shows 5 females to 2 males. This test I consider greatly in my favour, as it shows that the increase is greater amongst the polygamous rabbits than it is amongst the polyandrous rabbits, also that the percentage of females born in the former is greater than in the latter. This test shows that if male rabbits are kept by themselves they never die (a thing we all know to be wrong), and should have been continued with the young rabbits, but the Minister refused to do this, although the cost would probably not exceed £50 per annum. Yet at about that time £100,000 was advanced by the Government of New South Wales for thft purchase of wire netting, and the taxpayers of New South Wales were paying £200,000 per year in loss of rent and interest of money spent in connection with the rabbits. Because the above trial did not prove what is an impossibility—viz., that a species or habit cannot be established by one mating—therefore it was condemned, whereas had it been continued for three or four years I think it would have been found that all I say i® perfectly true. I think it will work better under natural conditions than in small enclosures. The size of the cages was 12 feet by 18 feet.


1.    Tank trapping.

2.    Pit traps along netting fences.

3.    Driving into yards.

4.    Hunting with slow dogs, and setting a good burrow trap at the warrens, and digging out the small burrows and cover-ups. If fast dogs are used they should be carriers, or worked with a muzzle. Carriers are dogs that do not kill a rabbit, but bring them alive to the rabbiter.

Two well-known proverbs every landowner wishing to get rid of rabbits should thoroughly understand :—

1.    You must not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.

2.    The longest way round is the shortest way there.


The Cobar district of New South Wales is about 6| millions of acres, almost all Crown lands, and carried the following numbers of sheep in the several years:—

Before the Rabbits got a Good Grip of the District.


.. 1,198,951 ..


.. 1,573,484 ..



.. 1,612,447 ..

1,488,649, or


.. 1,420,691 ..

" 1 sheep to


.. 1,631,712 ..

44 acres.


.. 1,494,609 ..


the Rabbits got

a Good Grip

of the District.






.. 317,688 .£ .. 454,124 ..

.. 478,594 ..

.. 445,652 ..

.. 400,817 ...

Average, 419,373, or 1 sheep to 15l acres

Decrease, 1,069,276 sheep.

At a meeting of the Pastures Protection Board, Cobar, in August, 1908, the following determinations were arrived at in regard to the carrying-capacity of the undermentioned district holdings ::—Coronga Downs, 17 acres to 1 sheep; Amphitheatre, 20 to 1; Priory, 22 to 1; Rookery, 22 to 1; Moquilamba, 25 to 1; N illera, 25 to 1 ; Nymagee, 25 to 1; Warmer’s lease, 25 to 1. Average, 22^ acres to 1 sheep, showing an increased acreage of over 18 acres more to carry 1 sheep in 1908 than the average of the district before the rabbits got hold of the country. The above table shows a loss of 1,069,276 sheep to the district, which,

at the rate of £2 per 100 for shearing (shearing 24s., and rouseabouts 16s.), is £21,384 per annum loss in wages to the members of the Australian Workers’ Union. At 16 bales to the 1,000 there is a loss of 17,108 bales of wool, which at £15 per bale is over £250,000 ; and assuming one-third of these sheep to be ewes, and putting the lambing's at 70 per cent., there is a loss of 249,494 lambs per year; these at 7s. 6d. each is nearly £75,000, which shows a loss to the district of nearly one-third of a millipn of money per annum. Added to which are the expenses of artifically feeding their stock, and many other expenses, also stagnation in improvements, depreciation of improvements and lease, &c., &c. To show how properties have depreciated in value since the rabbits have got hold of the district, and in spite of good prices for stock and wool, the following actual sales have taken place :—

1.    Leasehold area, 64,000 acres, netted in, 4 sheep paddocks, 4 small paddocks, good house, woolshed, and well watered—£1,200 cash ; nominal debt to the mortgagee, £40,000.

2.    Leasehold and resumed area, 140,000 acres, one of the best watered and best wire-fenced runs in the district, good house, woolsheds, yards, &c., H. P. netted, with good plant— £1,000, cash.

3.    80,000 acres leasehold and resumed area, netted in, woolshed, house, tanks, &c., waving with feed—£2,050, cash.

4.    64,000 acres leasehold (not in Cobar district), woolshed, house, tanks, &c., netted in—£1,100.

5.    192,000 acres leasehold and resumed area, netted in, woolshed, house, woolshed, tanks, netted in, waving with feed—£1,500 cash. No rent for 7 years.

The Western Division leases have about 34 years to run. Yet, in spite of the above facts, the pastoralists of the Cobar district would not in any way assist me at Tambua, or come to see the experiments or keep their own rabbits down, but continue on with the antiquated and fossilized ideas of rabbit destruction that have so often failed. If the few remaining owners that are left in the district are turned out and have to earn their living on the labour market they will only have themselves to blame for continuing the suicidal policy they have so long followed. The same thing applies more or less to the whole of the Western Division of New South Wales.


There is little doubt that foxes have increased so much in Australia during the last 10 years that they have become a pest. This has been caused to a great extent by the leniency shown them, owing to a good many people not troubling about them, as they are considered an assistance in getting rid of the rabbits. Now, the fox is either a friend or an enemy ; if the former, he should be encouraged, and people who destroy them should be punished ;

also there should be breeding places formed to increase them. If, on the other hand, he is an enemy, then he should be destroyed by the quickest and most practical way possible. There is little doubt that if the rabbit were exterminated the fox would cease to be considered a friend, and the extermination of the rabbit would be a big help to the extermination of the fox. The fox is merely tolerated because where there are two evils people choose what they consider the lesser. If the Rodier plan were followed for the rabbits they would be wiped out of existence, and so render the fox unnecessary as a friend and be a big help towards his extermination. It is to be hoped that no other carnivorous animal will be allowed to be introduced into Australia under the plea that it may exterminate the rabbit (certainly not until such a simple plan as the Rodier method has had a fair trial), as the results may be even worse than the fox.


This is another curse that has of late years been a great trouble in New South Wales and other States, and there is little doubt that it has been caused—or if not actually caused, greatly assisted—by the large numbers of dead rabbits, and other animals starved to death, left lying about in the bush. When one hears of rabbits being carted away from the tanks hy the drayload and tipped up to rot and fester in the sun, it is little wonder that blow-flies are about. Another thing that has helped this pest is the absence of birds, caused by the use of poisoned food and the scarcity of grass. There is little doubt that with the extermination of the rabbit the blowfly trouble will disappear, and the sooner people realize this the better, as the fly was not known in merino sheep in the dry parts before the rabbit came. In one case 188 drayloads of rabbits were carted away from one tank and allowed to swelter in the sun. No wonder the fly exists.


This is another lovely curse that troubles the man on the land, and, according to some writers in the papers, it is greatly augmented, if not actually caused, by the absence of birds, owing to the latter eating the poisoned food laid out for rabbits, and the absence of grass seed, owing to the rabbits. There is little doubt that the advocates of poisoned food and water for rabbit destruction have a lot to answer for, and if they could only be brought to realize the utter folly of continuing such plans, and used more practical means, a very great move would be made towards the extermination of the rabbit, the grasshopper, and the blow-fly.


All the world over people are trying to exterminate the rats, to do away with the spread of the bubonic plague, and to stop the destruction of goods, &c., in the warehouses. It is admitted that it is through the rats that the plague is spread, but up to the present no plan has yet been successful. Now, what is to prevent the Rodier method from being applied to the rats, and wiping them out of existence. There is little doubt that the rat is the same as the rabbit—viz., that the males are more venturesome and travel about more than the females (practically this applies to all animals) ; this causes more of them to be caught in the traps set for them, hence those rats that are not caught become polygamous, and that is why they increase in spite of the thousands that are killed, and the more males that are killed the quicker they will increase. The rat, being a small animal, can get into such nooks and crannies that it is impossible to apply the plan of digging out and destroying all cover, with a liberal use of wire netting, same as applied to the rabbit. Now, I don’t say that I have proven the plan with the rat, but I do say that I have proven it with the rabbit, and it is an absolute and positive certainty with the rabbits, and if with the rabbits, why not with the rats?- As it is impossible to make a trial with the rats in a netted area, why not give it a fair and straight-out trial with the rabbits (as per another part of this pamphlet) ?—as a trial can be made and not cost anything in the end with the rabbits, and if successful with the rabbits, which is a certainty, it could then be applied to the rats with confidence. It is to be hoped the Councils of the chief cities of Australia will use their influence with the various State Governments to get the plan tried with the rabbits, and if successful later on with the rats. It would do Australia an immense amount of good, and be the best advertisement she could possibly have, and show the world the solution of a difficulty that has troubled them for many years.


According to a great many supposed experts on this rabbit question, the great drawback to the extermination of the rabbits is that, owing to so many large areas of unoccupied Crown lands, on which the Government won’t destroy the rabbits, the tenants cannot get the rabbits off their own holdings, owing to fresh supplies coming from the unoccupied Crown lands. This is not correct, as it is the landowners’ own fault in killing the males on the occupied lands that has caused the rabbits to be a pest on the unoccupied lands, as the various Governments never killed the males on their lands, and why should they be called upon to exterminate a pest that they have not created. The landowners should not only be compelled to clear the rabbits off their own holdings, but off the unoccupied lands as well, and the way to do it is to let the males go on . their own lands and they will then go into the unoccupied lands and wipe the rabbits right out of them, and it won’t cost 5s. Strictly speaking, the. various Governments have got an action for damages against the landowners for creating the rabbit pest, and thereby depreciating the value of the Crown lands. The rabbit trade could be carried on on the unoccupied Crown lands near a railway, by the Government netting them in and leasing them out to the trappers, &c., and charging, say, 7 per cent, on the cost of the netting—4 per cent, interest and 3 per cent, sinking fund ; so that by the aid of the rabbit the ^unoccupied Crown lands v/ould be a source of revenue and employment instead of, as at present, a menace to the State. Take the case of Broughton Island. Here is a piece of land that I don’t suppose has ever paid one penny rent to the Crown. With the aid of the rabbit it could be made to pay £25 to £50 per year for rabbit-breeding, and so the trade could be supplied with rabbits from Broughton Island and other unoccupied lands of the State. If the men who went in for rabbitbreeding were not absolute fools they would kill as many males as they could, as the more males they kill the quicker they increase, and so the supply will be kept up, and the more valuable rabbits sent to market.


The New South Wales and other State Governments have spent enormous sums of money over this rabbit question in the past, and, owing to the failure of all plans to cope with the evil, they have become disheartened, and now that the proper plan is brought before them they won’t find the money to give it a fair trial. It is a curious fact that practically the whole of the money spent by the various Governments over this rabbit question has been spent.at the instigation of the man on the land. Now, if the various Governments, especially that of New South Wales, have not arrived at the conclusion that the man on the land, as a class, does not understand the rabbit question, then they take a lot of teaching. If the man on the land, as a class, had understood the question, why are the rabbits a pest, as there has been enough money spent to exterminate them several times over, if it had been spent in the right way ? But it has not been so spent, and the landowners may go on spending money indefinitely on the plans at present in use without any better results in the future than they have had in the past. In fact, the more that is spent in some of the plans, such as spring traps and poison carts, the greater will be the increase. Now, what the various Governments should do is this : Form a board of scientific men, and get them to hear evidence and find out the best plan, and get that plan or plans a fair trial under natural conditions, on its merits, and over a good-sized area of country. In New South Wales the taxpayers are (by the loss of rent and interest of money spent on rabbits) paying nearly £200,000 per annum, and the taxpayers in all other States are spending large sums of money annually in connection with' this question, and the solution of the difficulty is not yet found out. The proper thing to do is to experiment, and find out the best plan.


Broughton Island is situated off the coast of New South Wales, near Newcastle, about 1^ miles from the mainland, and is about 900 acres in extent.

It has come into public notice through being the island selected by the committee for trying the Danysz experiment of rabbit destruction. After spending somewhere about £9,000 upon these experiments, they proved a failure, as Dr. Danysz was unable to clear the rabbits off the island. Now, Broughton Island is a splendid place to watch the experiment of leaving rabbits alone, as if they do this and don’t allow any trappers on the island, or anyone to interfere in any way, Nature will exterminate the rabbits completely off the island by the very simple process of getting more males than females. Of course, it will take a long time, and it would be much better to assist Nature by killing only the females, but as Broughton Island is a useless bit of country and has the sea all around, that prevents any rabbits going on or off, it affords a unique chance of letting Nature have a fair show. The same thing applies to the island of Australia—viz., if the rabbits were let alone Nature would exterminate them; but as the land is wanted for other purposes people cannot afford to wait until this takes place, therefore why not assist Nature and kill only the females, and so get rid of the pest by the quickest and cheapest way, as to try and exterminate rabbits and at the same time keep them polygamous is the acme of stupidity.


New South Wales is divided into 67 districts, each district having a Pastures Protection Board, who send one delegate to the annual conference held in Sydney every winter. From these delegates nine members are elected to form the Council of Advice, three from each division. The duties of the Council are to put matters pastoral in New South Wales into a ship-shape form, so that there will be uniformity, and to advise the Government generally on pastoral affairs. This Council has not any legal standing, but represents the P. P. Boards, which are elected under the Act. The Government of New South Wales provides an office for the meetings, and generally consults the Council before undertaking any alteration in pastoral concerns, and, I think, grants free railway passes to the meetings in Sydney; It was this Council that collected the money to bring out Dr. Danysz from Paris to try disease on Broughton Island, and who supervised the experiments. This Council has now about £3,000 in hand over from the Danysz experiment, which they seem not to know what to do with. The only new suggestion referring to the rabbits at the last conference was one that inquiries should be made referring to the weasel and stoat in New Zealand, with a view of introducing them to Australia. After the losses sustained by the fox, it is about time the Government prohibited the introduction of any other carnivorous animal into Australia, as there is no knowing where it will end, as most likely the remedy will be worse than the disease. What the Council ought to do is to form a board of scientific men and get them to hear evidence on the subject and find out what is the best scheme, and then the Council should take it up and give it a fair trial under natural conditions. They should do this, as they have had the matter in hand for some years, and up to the present have proven unable to cope with the evil, and instead of trying to find out the next best plan, as far as can be seen they are not doing anything in the matter. They seem to have forgotten a little rhyme which is as follows :—“ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Now, what they ought to do is to try again, as the subject is a very vital one to the pastoral interest of New South Wales and as the members of the Council of Advice accept positions on the Board they are duty bound to consider the interests of the pastoral community. There is a little proverb which says “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” and if the Council will only display the will the way can easily be found. If they would take up the plan here advocated they would regain all the kudos lost over the Danysz experiment, as this plan is a downright, positive, and absolute certainty, as it is Nature’s law7 and the only plan that wrill stand the test of time over large areas of poor country. It is the simplest, cheapest, and most practical plan yet known, and has not any drawbacks.


New South Wales is divided into 67 sheep districts, each district electing 8 members to form the Pastures Protection Board. These Boards deal with all matters referring to stock and rabbits. There is a stock inspector (who in many cases acts as rabbit inspector as well), secretary, and in many districts one or more rabbit inspectors. These Boards (the members of which are elected under Act of Parliament, and are allowed travelling allowances, and are kept up by the rates paid by the stockowners) have the administration of the law, and can compel owners of rabbit-infested country to take means to destroy the rabbits on their holdings, but up to the present I don’t think there is one district in New South Wales that can honestly say they have got the rabbits conquered. No doubt these Boards do good work in matters referring to stock, &c., and pastoral affairs generally, but they are a huge failure as far as rabbits are concerned. The fault lies in the fact that they don’t know the right plan to adopt, and yet they continue to compel destruction. Consequently a great many of the landowners are harassed by the inspectors, and money wasted. It should be the duty of the P.P. Boards to make some combined effort in the way of an experiment to find out the solution of this great difficulty. When the P.P. Boai’ds were first formed under the Act they took over large sums of money from the old Stock Boards, amounting to over £13,000, and this sum they are required to spend in the destruction of rabbits on the unoccupied lands in their several districts during the next few years. To do so under the present conditions will only be throwing the money away, whereas if some of this money could be utilized in experiments great good would be done. If the Boards would help on the question there is little doubt that the solution would soon be found.


In Australia the Labour party form a very strong body, and represent the workers of the community, and their attitude on the rabbit question is really surprising, when it is taken into consideration the good that would be reaped by their members if the rabbits were kept under proper control. There are three main planks of the Labour party’s platform that are in jeopardy over this rabbit question—viz., white Australia, land nationalization, and high wages. Owing to the losses sustained over the rabbits the Crown tenants and others are trying to get the cheapest labour they can, whatever nationality that will work for a lower wage, so that they can make their places pay. Also owing to the ravages of the rabbits, people are driven off the pooi’est lands of the State, and so the country is not populated as it should be, which is a big menace to the safety of Australia, as there is little doubt that Japan and China are not gome to stand the insults they have received from Australia in the past, and no doubt in the future will take steps to open the ports of Australia to their countrymen. In Australia there are enormous areas of Crown lands leased out to tenants, a great many of whom are being ruined by the rabbits, as they cannot make their places pay and are being forced into the Insolvency Court. Now, this land is all nationalized—that is, belongs to the Crown and leased out to tenants, who, if they had a freehold tenure to it, would be able to raise money and so be in a better position to cope with the rabbits. The consequence of this is that people who have their land in fee simple, and can afford to dig out and destroy all cover, with a liberal use of netting, are reaping immense profits out of the high prices of produce, and at the expense of the whole community, and the Labour party by their attitude on the rabbit question are playing directly into their hands. The way to increase the wages of the workers is to lower the prices of all articles of consumption, such as wool, meat, &c., &c. At the present time meat is an enormous price in Australia, owing to its scarcity, greatly caused by the rabbits, and if they were exterminated the price would come down, also all other commodities, and the wages of the workers increase in consequence, as the man on the poorer lands would make more money and employ more labour, at low prices and no rabbits, than he can now. The Australian Workers’ Union are losing in shearing wages in New South Wales about £357,000 per year, representing 18,384,956 sheep at £2 per 100—that is, 24s. for shearing and 16s. for rouseabouts. Now, shearing is the best paid labour in Australia, as a tiptop shearer with machines can make up to £13 per week and a good man £8 to £10, and an average shearer can do 100 per day, or 550 per week of 48 hours, which, after paying for his board, &c., can clear £5 10s. to £6 per week. There is no other class of labour in Australia that pays such big wages as shearing. It would pay the A.W.U. alone to find the money to form an experimental station and give the Rodier plan for the rabbits a fair trial for the money they would make out of shearing alone in New South Wales. In the Pastoralists’ Review for September is an account of the wages earned at shearing at Murnpeowie station, South Australia, showing that 30 men averaged 173 sheep per man per day for over 20,000 sheep ; this is an average of £2 Is. 6d. per day per man, the highest wages being an average of £2 17s lOd. per day. Now, the rabbiter works, say, 14 hours per day 7 days a week, and clears, after paying board, say, 30s. to £2 5s per week. He has to do his own cooking, live in tents, and work a lot of his time at night, and has very little company. The shearer has genial company, gets his cooking done for him, has the best of tucker, works only 48 hours per week under cover and free from dust and heat, and earns fully three to five times as much in wages. Why not exterminate the rabbits and put sheep in their place (where it can be done) for the shearing wages alone. By doing this the rabbiter’s occupation will not be gone, as he can still carry on his calling on the unoccupied lands of the State, and not interfere with she sheep at all, and so the unoccupied lands can, by the aid of the rabbit, be made to return some revenue to the State and employ a lot of people instead of, as at present, being a menace to the State. The amount of work at big wages that would follow on the extermination of the rabbits by the opening up of new country and putting up fences, and sinking tanks, and other improvements, would be something enormous, and Australia will go ahead rapidly by leaps and bounds, and the population will increase, so that in a few years we would have a white population capable of holding Australia against all comers.


_ Some of the large pastoral and financing firms and banks have advanced large sums of money on mortgage to the Crown tenants in the various States, and in many instances have foreclosed and taken the properties as security for the debt, owing to the inability of the owners to continue paying the interest due. In a great many instances this inability was due to the losses and expense caused by the rabbits, and many properties to-day are not worth one-sixth, and in some cases not one-tenth, of the amounts advanced upon them. Now, it would be greatly to the interests of the pastoral financing firms and banks if the rabbits were exterminated, as their properties would greatly increase in value, and the expenses be lessened enormously, and if* they would only join together to find the money to give this plan a fair and straight-out trial on its merits they would find in it the solution of the difficulty, without any loss to themselves. The experimental station would pay its own way, and eventually return a profit, and the small amount necessary from each firm would never be missed. The whole of the woollen and meat trade of the world depends upon one thing—viz., that the animals that produce the wool and meat are kept polygamous ; if they were kept polyandrous, in a few years they would cease to exist. Such being the case, why not extend the same principle to the rabbits—viz., keep them polyandrous and wipe them out of existence ? When one looks at the palatial buildings, fitted with every convenience, erected by some of the firms, it seems wonderful that the necessary few pounds cannot be got to go to the root of the question, and increase the production of the land. Some of the firms in the past have reconstructed, caused chiefly by the rabbit ; it is to be hoped that they won’t be forced into liquidation by the same cause. To put the matter plainly, the pastoral financing firms and banks are wasting time in the way they are dealing with this question, and if they won’t risk their sprat how on earth can they expect to catch a mackerel ?


In Australia there is an association named the Australian Natives’ Association, with branches all over the Commonwealth. The two chief aims of the association are to form a benefit society for the good of its members, and to take up general questions of national importance, otherwise than political or religious questions. Now,

I don’t suppose there is one question that the A. N.A. could take up of more importance than this rabbit question, or one that will give such practical results in so reasonable a time. Of course, the defence question is of more importance, but this is a question that will be always with us, and always want keeping to the front, whereas the rabbit question can be taken up and

finished with, and the results to Australia would be something enormous, and the defence question would get such a lift, in the way of increased population, that it would be helped along more than by any one thing else. If the A.N.A. honestly intends to try and help on national questions for the benefit of Australia, they should take up this rabbit question, and not rest satisfied until the difficulty is solved. All that is wanted is a board of scientific men to be formed to hear evidence and select the best plan or plans, and get the selected plan or plans a fair trial under natural conditions and over a sufficiently large area of country to satisfy all parties. The A.N.A.’s influence should be to get the Government to form that board—that is all they need do at present—and later on get the selected plan a fair trial. The settlement of the rabbit question would open up to occupation immense areas of poor land that otherwise must remain closed and be a menace to the State. It would give a tremendous lot of employment, at higher rates of wages, to a great many men, and put more people on the land and help the producer more than any other question. It would increase the output and cheapen the production of all produce, so that Australia would be able to compete in the markets of the world against all comers. If the various branches of the A.N.A. would only take the question up and push it to a successful issue every member of their association would benefit in the lower price of meat, &c., as all pastoral and agricultural products would be lessened in price to the consumer, and the producer would make more money at the lower price, because of increased quantity and cheaper production. As I am a member of the A.N.A., the association would be assisting a question coming from one of their members, and bring their association more before the public, and be the means of helping Australia in a very marked degree, and more than by any other question.


In Australia there are a great many meat-exporting companies, who at the present time have to pay very high prices for their stock, and as the prices they receive in England for their wares are regulated by the supply from other parts of the world, they are compelled to buy their stock as cheaply as they can to enable them to compete with other countries. Owing to the present high prices their business is curtailed, and in some instances they may be forced to close their works. Australia had a grand chance to improve its position in the meat-exporting line when the Chicago meat scandals were made public, but owing to the high prices then ruling (as fat wethers sold in the Sydney market, in the wool, up to 26s. 3d.)) and to the high prices since, this branch of trade has not increased as it would have done. The possibilities before Australia in frozen


- 56,660,448

j 38,275,492

lambs and meat with England and other countries is something enormous, as Australia should be the chief butcher for England. It would pay the meat-exporting companies alone to find the money to give my plan for the rabbits a fair trial, so that the price of stock would be brought down to reasonable limits and enable them to increase their business. The producers would make more money at the lower prices, owing to greater numbers and cheaper production.




1889 ..


1890 . .


1891 ..


1892 ..


1893 . .


1894 . .


1903 ..


1904 ..


1905 ..


1906 ..


1907 ..


Difference, 18,384,956.

The above list shows a difference of 18,384,956 sheep, which, at 16 bales to the 1,000, is 294,160 bales—at £15 per bale, £4,412,400. Assuming one-third wyere ewes, and the lambings at 70 per cent., there is a loss of 4,289,823 lambs, at 7s. 6d. each, equal to £1,608,683; or a total loss of wool and sheep of £6,021,083 to New South Wales per annum, chiefly caused by the rabbits. The loss to the Australian Workers’ Union in wages for shearing only at £2 per 100—that is, 24s. for shearing and 16s. for rouse-abouts — is £367,698. The above amount of over £6,000,000 per annum would maintain a navy sufficient to defend Australia against all comers for many years, and yet an experimental station, that will pay its own way, cannot be formed and a simple plan for the extermination of the rabbits get a fair trial.


The following appeared in the Melbourne Argus of 25th June, 1908 :—


Australia’s Opportunity.

“ One of the facts brought into prominence by the Victorian Government Statist in his last 1 Year-Book ’ was that the number of sheep in the principal rearing countries of the world decreased to the extent of 26,000,000 between 1887 and 1903. Inquiries now begun are expected to show a similar shrinkage in herds of cattle. Population increased in the periods under notice 71,000,000,”

It will be seen by the New South Wales return that New South Wales was responsible for a loss of about 18,000,000, or over two-thirds of the total.


Some time ago there appeared letters in the papers referring to the destruction of the birds caused by the ladies wearing plumes in their hats, and a request from Lord Avebury that the Commonwealth Government would do something to stop the wholesale destruction of the birds. Mr. Deakin was sympathetic, and suggested the stopping of plumes passing through the Custom House as the only way the' Federal Government had of putting a stop to the practice. Now, I fail to see why ladies have not as much right to wear feathers in their hats as Lord Avebury or Mr. Deakin has to sit down to a poultry dinner or wear a pair of boots. In the first place the fowls have to be killed to provide the meal, and in the second place the cattle have to be killed to provide the leather; also there are hundreds of millions of eggs used every year, and tens of thousands of cattle killed, and yet the supply is kept up. Why? Because they are kept polygamous. To provide the poultry and cattle for the market the supply is kept up by killing, caponizing, or castrating the great bulk of the males, whereas the birds are slaughtered wholesale. If they want to increase the birds, legislation (in my opinion) should take the form of preventing the killing of the females and allowing the killing of the males, as the more males that are killed, provided enough are left for breeding, in my opinion the greater will be the increase. If, then, the males are killed, why cannot the ladies be allowed to wear the plumes, as in most cases the males are the plumage birds. By doing this the birds ought to increase and at the same time find employment for a good many people. On the other hand, if any bird is a pest, like the starling, why not do the opposite—viz., catch them alive, kill all the females and let the males fly, and so exterminate them. I am fully aware there is great difficulty to prove this with the birds, owing to the difficulty of enclosing a large area to keep birds in, so that they shall have their natural conditions; but there is not any difficulty in proving it with the rabbits, as a piece of country could easily be netted in, and the plan given a fair trial under natural conditions. As the plan is an absolute, positive certainty with the rabbits, why not with the rats, birds, flying foxes, starlings, &c., &c. ? Give it the trial, and find out.


Whilst Australia is struggling with the rabbit question the general taxpayer has to foot the bill, which is not a small one. In every State immense sums have been spent on the rabbit, both publicly and privately, and up to the present no general means of extermination has been found. In New South Wales in the eighties the Government advanced nearly £1,000,000 in subsidies to the landowners, which did more harm than good ; then they expended probably from one-half to three-quarters of a million on netting-fences, which also failed and today are in a very neglected condition; they then increased the leases in the Western Division to 42 years, and later on reduced the rents by over £100,000 per annum. They have also placed the law into the lands of the Pastures Protection Boards, and these Boards levy rates upon the ratepayers. What with loss of rents and interest on money the general taxpayer of New South Wales has to foot a bill of about £200,000 per annum, and little or no good has resulted. The taxpayer as a consumer has also to pay very high prices for meat and other commodities, and all because a proper experiment cannot be got to find out the solution of this great question. The same thing applies to the other States, as the expense over this rabbit question has been enormous.


There is one thing that Australia wants badly, and that is more population, as it is the most thinly populated continent of the world. Now, the extermination or proper control of the rabbit will find more work and put more people on the land than the settlement of any other question at present before the public. It is without doubt the most vital question Australia has to face, except that of defence. The best defence a nation can have is a big population, and the settlement of the rabbit question will help on the defence question, because it goes to the root of the question, and increases the productiveness of the land. Defence is a question that will be always with us, whereas this rabbit question can be settled in a few years and done with, and the population go on increasing rapidly as a result of that settlement. In Sydney there is an Immigration Department, presided over by Dr. Arthur. Now, I would like to ask Dr. Arthur, as a medical man, if the plan advocated by me is wrong, and, if not, then why not, as a politician and chairman of the Immigration Department, bring his influence to bear to get it a fair trial on its merits, and so assist the immigration question ? In New South Wales there is a big rush for land, owing to the high price of produce, and as many as 50 to 100 applicants for one block of land. Either this is a legitimate demand, which ought to be supplied, or else the Government are giving away the public estate at too low a price. What is the use of bringing out more people when we cannot satisfy the demands of those at present here? One of the chief causes of the rush for land is that the people are driven off the poorer lands owing to the rabbits. The Western Division of New South Wales is about 80,000,000 acres, mostly Crown lands, being more than twice the size of England and Wales, with probably not one-fourhundredth (1/400) of the population, the greater portion of which are supported by the mining-industry. Why not exterminate the rabbit out of this country and put a big population upon it ? It is all good grazing country and grows good wool, and the stock are very healthy and fatten well. The same thing applies to hundreds of millions of acres of the other States, and the development that would take place throughout Australia when the rabbits were exterminated would be something enormous, and Australia would soon be able to take its place as one of the nations of the world, and be in a position to defend itself against all comers.

Sq. Miles.


Acres per head.

58,324 ..


. 1 l/io acres

147,655 ...


. 2 acres

1,532,420 ..


. 22/5 acres

87,884 ..


. 45 1/2 acres

310,367 ..


. 128 acres

1,135,840 ..


. 128 acres

2,948,116 ..


. 475 acres

England and Wales Japan (proper) China (proper) Victoria ..

New South Wales Argentine .. Australia (only)


Australia has lately had a visit from the American Fleet, and has spent probably £50,000 to £100,000 in entertaining the sailors. No doubt the money has been well spent, and will be recouped in various ways. There are three main reasons why Australia invited the Fleet to its shores :—1.— Because of general good friendship to their Anglo-Saxon cousins.    2.—Be

cause of their fear of the Jap. 3.— For advertisement. Now, if Australia can afford to spend such a large amount of money for such an occasion, surely they can afford to spend some in putting their own house in order and making a start to provide reasonable defence for themselves. There is no guarantee that America will assist Australia when the time comes that their assistance may be wanted. Come it will, sooner or later, as China and Japan are not going to stand the insults they have received from both Australia and America, and when they are ready there is little doubt they will try and open up the ports of Australia to their countrymen. In the meantime Australia should put on as big a population of white people as possible, and one of the best ways to do this is to open up the poorer lands to settlement by exterminating the rabbit. Therefore, why not find the money necessary to give any reasonable plan a fair trial for such purpose, as the benefit to Australia when the rabbit has been got rid of would be something enormous.


An experimental station is wanted to give the Rodier plan a fair trial, and if the sum of £10,000 could be raised the following could be done :— An improved run in the Western Division of New South Wales could be bought for about £2,500; area, say,

100.000    to 150,000 acres. Out of this

30.000    acres could be taken and netted in with a really good fence, 54 x 1^ x 17, and put one foot in the ground, with pit traps each side, say, three to the mile; cost, about 30 miles at £100 per mile, or £3,000. Then £2,500 could be spent in buying sheep, leaving £2,000 for wages, plant, and general expenses. The sheep would ipake the place self-supporting, and in all probability pay interest on the money spent, at least after the netting fence is completed. The plan could then be proved inside the netted area in two or three years, and when public opinion recognizes the success of the method, the property, stock, plant, &c., would sell for £2*0,000, say, with 15,000 to

20.000    sheep, and so pay back the original sum with a bonus of 100 per cent. If the worst came to the worst, and the plan failed, there would still be a big asset in the property, sheep, plant, &c., and a properly netted area for future experiments; but, with a fair trial like this, failure is an absolute impossibility. The above trial would be on sufficiently large an area to satisfy all parties. The question is —How is the £10,000 to be raised? If the Council of Advice would take the question up and float it into a company of 10,000 £1 shares and take up 3,000 shares with the money they have in hand, together with £1,000 that has been promised to me from other sources, there is little doubt the success of the movement would be assured. The N.S.W. Pastures Protection Boards might also contribute comething out of the £13,000 they have to spend on the unoccupied Crown lands. The Government, in all probability would give a good subsidy towards the total, and the Council of Advice would regain all the kudos it has lost over the Danysz experiments. I shall be glad of any offers of financial asistance, or suggestions how to raise the necessary capital. I want assistance.


There is little doubt that the rabbit is the greatest curse that has ever visited Australia, and it has been going on for so long, and the area increasing, that it is about time people generally realized the fact that they have been working on wrong lines, and tried something different. If they would only do this some good would result, but whilst the plans that have been in use for the last 40 years, and those of later date which carry on the same principle, are used, there is little likelihood of much good being done. Something new is wanted. There is little doubt that the great majority of people have honestly and conscientiously tried their utmost at one time or another to get rid of this most terrible curse, but owing to failure have lost heart, and look upon the extermination of the rabbit at a reasonable expense as something impossible. Now, this is entirely wrong, as the rabbit can be exterminated at a very small cost and without any drawbacks, if desired, and without the aid of wire netting. All the man on the land has to do is to keep the males in excess of the females, and to do this he must use plans that catch the rabbits alive and kill only the females. There is a story told of a man on London Bridge who tried to sell sovereigns for one shilling, and could not do it, not because the sovereigns were not genuine, but because the public did not know they were genuine. Now, that is the exact position of this rabbit question; the people don’t know the genuine plan when it is brought before them. Why ? Simply because they won’t take the trouble to find it out. To put the matter plainly, the man on the land is fighting directly against the laws of Nature, and must in the long run be beaten. Owing to the high price of wool and meat, he may be able to carry on for a while, but those on the poorer lands must eventually go down. Now, why not assist Nature, instead of going directly against her, as it won’t cost any more—in fact, will cost a great deal less—as Nature is doing her level best to equalize the sexes (as that is the natural state the rabbit should be in), yet ,the man on the land won’t let her do this, but uses plans such as spring traps, poisons, &c., that create polygamy, hence the increase. Not only that, he is killing natural enemies of the rabbit, such as iguanas, native cats, and domestic cats that have gone wild, and doing an immense amount of harm and making it more difficult to eradicate the rabbit. A great many people blame the man who first brought the rabbits to Australia (no doubt we would have been better without them, but if he had not done so others would), but they might as well blame Bryant and May for making matches because some wretch sets fire to a farmer’s haystack, grass, &c. The man to blame is the wretch who set fire to the stacks, and so the man to blame for the rabbits is that stupid individual who in his mistaken zeal kills the males. He is wholly and solely to blame for the rabbit being a pest, and the sooner he realizes the fact the better it will be for himself and Australia as a whole. No doubt it is rather hard on the man who has been doing his best to get rid of the pest to be told that his efforts have done more harm than good, but nevertheless it is the truth, however unpalatable it may be. If the man on the land as a class had understood the question the rabbits would not have increased as they have done, and that fact alone is proof that they don’t understand it. Australia has a natural rabbit-proof fence around it—viz., the ocean; this did not cost anything to put there, consequently there is not any interest to pay, and it does not require any maintenance. Why not make use of this to its fullest, and let the males go, as they cannot get off Australia. Digging out and destroying all cover with a liberal use of netting has g'ot rid of the rabbits out of many millions of acres in Australia, but to do this is like buying a steam hammer to crack a cocoanut. No doubt it will do it, but it is terribly expensive, and if something cheaper cannot be found to get rid of the rabbits out of the poorer lands then they must ever remain rabbit-infested. The expression “the maximum amount of good ’ ’ is synonymous with the expression “the minimum amount of harm,” and as by killing a female you get “ the maximum amount of good,” by not killing the male you get ‘ ‘ the minimum amount of harm,” and as the Rodier plan combines the two, by following it you get the total “ maximum amount of good.” The only thing that then remains is to see that the plan that is used catches most rabbits in a given time, and that depends upon local conditions. Lots of people say that if the males are let go they will get so numerous they will eat the country out. Needless to say they have not had any experience of the plan, as it is the very opposite, as the greater the percentage of the males the less the breeding, and consquently the less the grand total of rabbits. Others say it is too slow, too expensive, and not suitable for large areas, See., See. They are all wrong, and it only wants to be tried to be demonstrated, as it is the cheapest, quickest, and the only suitable plan for large areas, especially of poor country. The loss of edible shrubs caused by being ringbarked by the rabbits, and the loss of scrub cut for sheep owing to the rabbits, is something very great, so much so that the means of fighting a drought have been very greatly reduced and the losses from drought enormously increased. The rabbits, in fact, make what would be an ordinary dry time into a severe drought with all its evils. The drought at present affords the only means of getting the rabbits down temporarily, whereas by getting the males in excess of the females they could be exterminated even with green feed and water everywhere. Science has done a lot for the farmer and dairyman, and if the pastoralists would let it, it would do a lot for them, but when they deliberately refuse to avail themselves of its help, and go directly against its teachings, they must put up with the consequences. If boys in towns were allowed to keep rabbits, as in years gone by, they would learn their habits, as to prohibit this by Act of Parliament and at the same time to breed them in millions in the bush is very stupid. The Act strains at a gnat and swallows the camel with ease. In conclusion, I may say that I appeal to young Australians to help on the question, and bring their influence to bear to get a board of scientists formed, and find out the best method to be used, and give the selected plan a fair trial on a large area under natural conditions.

The following lines appeared in the Cobar Herald of 1st January, 1892,

and are as appropriate to-day as they were then :—


Of all the plagues that vexed the land In Pharaoh’s days of old,

And came at the Divine command As Moses had foretold,

This fact, would the Government only grab it,

None licked the gay and festive rabbit.

The clouds poured down, the springing grass

Turned all the country green;

The squatter rubbed his hands—alas !

Came bunny on the scene.

By thousands o’er the runs they breed, And collar every blade of feed.

“Oh, net your paddocks!” Brunker cries,

Proceedings most astute,

But netting is an awful price;

And then you know Canute He tried his best to stop the sea— This tide, with like result, may we.

Tambua’s lord, a thoughtful man,

To rid him of the pest,

Hit on a most ingenious plan,

But got no help from the rest.

With traps, poisoned twigs, pollard, and water

The others join in general slaughter.

But bunny laughs and breeds away, Creeps through each open gate,

And rings the scrub the livelong day When all the grass is ate.

And so, in spite of seasons fair,

These western plains are brown and bare,

While squatters swear and tear their hair.


CHALLENGE! £500 TO £200.

To all whom it may concern throughout the Universe.

Let them all come !

I, William Rodier, hereby make the statement that the plan known as the Rodier method for the extermination of rabbits throughout the whole of Australia is the best that can be brought forward for that purpose. I use the word best as that comprises everything, such as effectiveness, practicability, freedom from disease and other drawbacks, simplicity, cheapness, &c., &c., and I am prepared to back my plan with £500 as against any known plan or any plan that may become known during the next six years backed by £200, the conditions to be somewhat as follows :—I will nominate the Rodier plan and back it with £500, anyone else taking up the other side to put up £200. I will nominate one person to help foi'm a board, and the person putting up the £200 to do likewise. These two nominees to appoint some outsider as chairman to complete the Board of three. The Board so formed to invest the money in Government securities for six years, and to have full and complete powers to decide the question. At the end of six years the board to meet in Sydney and give its decision, and if in their opinion any plan other than the Rodier method has been a success to award the total amount to the person putting up the £200: if, on the other hand, they consider the Rodier plan has been a success, the Board to award the total amount to me. If they cannot come to a decision they can either return each person his amount or in the event of any plan showing signs of being a success the Board to have the power of extending the time up to two years longer. If after that time they cannot come to a decision, then the amount deposited by each person to be returned to him. Provision to be made to reasonably remunerate the members of the Board. It must be thoroughly understood that some plan must be a success before the money is either lost or won; also that it is not necessary for the depositor of the £200 to state any definite plan or give any reason why the Rodier plan should fail; also that leaving rabbits alone shall not be considered a plan, and that any plan to win the money must be one that is suitable to all classes of country and climate. The Board’s decision to be final and conclusive beyond any disputing. This challenge to remain open till the end of January, 1909, and if accepted full particulars and publicity be given of the acceptance.

Any persons knowing cause or just impediment why the Rodier method of rabbit destruction cannot be made to exterminate the rabbits out of the whole of Australia, if required, and at a payable price, have now the chance of saying so and backing their opinion —if not, for ever after hold their peace.

Referring to the above challenge, I fully recognize the fact that if the rabbits are left entirely alone Nature will restore the balance of power between the sexes—that is, make them equal in numbers, and later on make them polyandrous, as it will be a case of the survival of the fittest, and the fittest rabbit to survive is the male, as the females having young cannot stand the droughts, hard times, and natural enemies as well as the males. This will take many years, and, owing to the losses sustained, become very expensive, although as for money spent it is the cheapest. Leaving them alone, as far as principle is concerned, is the same as the Rodier method, only a very much slower, and therefore expensive, way of obtaining the same result—viz., an excess of males.


Care Peter N. Russell, 14 O’Connell-street, Sydney; or D. A. Skene, 464 Little Collins-street, Melbourne.

October, 1908.


Walker, May and Co., Printers, Maclcillop-street, Melbourne.