By Peter W.J. Bartrip
Myxomatosis, a viral affliction of the ecu wild rabbit, reached Britain in 1953. inside of a yr it had killed hundreds of thousands of rabbits from Kent to the Shetlands. Winston Churchill, the Archbishop of York and individuals of the general public raised at the stories of Beatrix Potter have been appalled, deploring the lack of an inexpensive dietary food. Many farmers, nonetheless, welcomed the dying of a major agricultural pest and intentionally unfold the ailment. the govt resisted appeals to legislate opposed to the planned spreading of the sickness until eventually passing the 1954 Pests Act, therefore by means of 1955 a few ninety% of the united kingdom rabbit inhabitants were wiped out.Britain’s myxomatosis outbreak has hitherto attracted little ancient recognition. within the first e-book devoted to this topic, Peter Bartrip examines how the ailment reached and unfold within the united kingdom. He argues that it used to be now not the govt who was once liable, as many idea on the time, yet for the 1st time Bartrip names the person who could have intentionally introduced myxomatosis from France. Bartrip tracks the reaction of presidency and different events and considers the influence of rabbit de-population on agriculture and the ordinary setting. The cultural value of this disorder increases topical and debatable concerns that are vital if we're to profit classes from more moderen animal illness epidemics equivalent to foot and mouth, BSE and H5N1 avian influenza.
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Additional resources for Myxomatosis: A History of Pest Control and the Rabbit (International Library of Twentieth Century History)
If occupiers chose to let rabbits damage their property and they alone suffered, the question of redress did not arise. However, occupiers of neighbouring land deserved protection. To this end the committee recommended that following ‘fair and impartial enquiry’ county councils should be empowered to order the destruction of rabbits, or the implementation of other precautions, wherever rabbits caused damage on neighbouring property. In the event of noncompliance, councils should also be empowered to institute legal proceedings and to supply trained personnel to undertake the destruction.
Several bills were prepared. 63 Little more than a month before the Second World War broke out parliament finally passed the Prevention of Damage by Rabbits Act. The act applied to England and Wales only (excluding greater London). Part I allowed local authorities who received a complaint from a 32 MYXOMATOSIS: A HISTORY OF PEST CONTROL AND THE RABBIT third party to require the control of rabbits within a reasonable period of time (not less than three weeks) whenever those rabbits were causing or likely to cause ‘substantial damage’ to the ‘crops, trees, shrubs, pasturage, fences, banks or works on land in the occupation of any other person’.
The recalcitrant could be sanctioned only through the flawed procedures of the Agriculture Act, 1947 and its Scottish equivalent. 86 It has been repeatedly suggested that by the early 1950s Britain’s rabbit population stood at between 60 and 100 million animals. Even if the lower figure is correct, this would still mean that for all the anti-rabbit measures taken during the war, the population had increased by ten million in little more than a decade. 87 Gasses and Traps How was rabbit control effected on the eve of the myxomatosis outbreak?