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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Rabbit Legislation

The first attempt to control rabbits was made in 1876 when rabbit nuisance legislation tried to control rabbits and preserve powerful commercial interests. It was only in 1938 that the principle of a “killer policy” (the destruction of rabbits all the year round in rabbit districts administered by rabbit boards) was introduced. A further drastic change was brought by the 1947 legislation when a Rabbit Destruction Council of eight members was established to coordinate rabbit destruction and to advise the Minister of Agriculture on such matters. The Rabbit Destruction Council devalued rabbit skins and carcasses completely. Then the Council increased the number of rabbit boards to a maximum of 185 in 1961 in an attempt to eradicate the “last rabbit” from New Zealand. Spectacular success was achieved at an annual cost of £1,100,000 (repaid by higher sheep production). In the last few years, however, there has been little change. The remaining small numbers of rabbits cause little damage, but are difficult to reduce further, and the ultimate goal of “the last rabbit” seems to remain as remote as ever. In 1962 rabbit control cost £1,368,112.

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