Source: The Mercury, 11 March, 2001, p.4
THE grey rabbit was recognised as a pest in Tasmania in 1827. In that year the Colonial Times warned "the common rabbit is becoming so numerous in the colony, they are running about on some large estates in thousands". The spread of rabbits on the mainland also has a Tasmanian link. Thomas Austin released two dozen rabbits, imported from Britain, on his property near Geelong in 1859. Thomas and his brother James had previously run the Derwent ferry and built an inn at Rosemouth south of Hobart in 1846. They left for Victoria when the Government refused their request fur more land. Spreading at 100km a year, by 1900 the rabbits had reached Queensland and the South-West of Western Australia. Since then rabbits have defied all efforts to eradicate them. The South American rabbit virus, myxomatosis, was released nationally in 1951. In two years it reduced the rabbit population from 600 million to 100 million. But many rabbits evolved a genetic resistance and populations quickly recovered.
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