We are responsible for the appalling suffering that rabbits endure from myxomatosis.
This was introduced by humans to control the rabbit population and results in a slow agonising death from pneumonia, starvation, or, if lucky, killed quickly by a fox. Unfortunately, having taken my dogs over Bedelands Nature Reserve, I and others have encountered numerous dead bodies which obviously shows another outbreak of this disease which happens periodically.
Last week I met up with two other ladies walking their dogs over Bedeland Nature Reserve and subsequently one of their dogs caught a myxomatosis diseased rabbit, killed it very quickly and proceeded to carry it round for the rest of the walk. At the end of the walk we bumped into a group of “walkers” and I commented that the dog had caught a myxomatosis rabbit and she said “Well that’s why all dogs should be on leads”. I proceeded to tell her that the fate of the rabbit was terminal anyway and it was better off than starving to death but what I do not understand is whether she would have thought any different had it been a fox that killed it? Perhaps she is like most people in not understanding the way nature works. Every day animals are killed by other animals but with Myxomatosis we have shifted the balance of nature as the rabbits are unable to see to escape their predators be it fox or dog.
There have been reports of rabbit carcasses hanging in trees at Bedelands and this upsetting some peoples sensibilities. I walk over Bedelands Nature Reserve fairly often and for the last couple of months there have been dead rabbits lying about – certainly more than I would normally see. These rabbits all have myxomatosis. My dogs, as you can imagine, like to pick up the dead bodies and eat them – a natural thing for a dog. I have then taken the dead rabbit from my dog and placed it in a tree where my dog and other dogs cannot reach it. If my dogs had been on leads this woman would have seen the dead body anyway but lying on the ground.
Perhaps we should pick these rabbits up, put them into bags and put them in the dog poo bins but would the council allow this?
Cuckfield Road, Burgess Hill
A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council said: “Our Park Rangers have been to Bedelands to investigate these troubling reports but have so far only found one rabbit on display. The rabbit showed no signs of myxomatosis but the team will continue to monitor the situation. Please do not put any dead rabbits in the dog waste bins. If you would like to keep them away from you dog our Rangers suggest hiding the remains out of sight at the back of a thick bush. It’s possible that these rabbits are being trapped or hunted and, as both activities are illegal on a nature reserve, we have reported the matter to the wildlife crime officer at Sussex Police who is currently investigating the matter.”
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