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An olive grove in Antequera, mottled with wild rabbit burrows. SUR
Fourteen town halls across Malaga province formulate plan to combat wild rabbit population problem
Animal welfare

Fourteen town halls across Malaga province formulate plan to combat wild rabbit population problem

The Junta de Andalucía's "emergency hunting" resolution allows control methods ranging from weapons, ferrets, dogs and nets to birds of prey. Among other things, it is about reducing damage to crops

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Wednesday, 12 June 2024, 18:08

Opciones para compartir

A total of 14 municipalities in Malaga province have formulated a special plan to combat the overpopulation of wild rabbits in their areas in a bid to prevent further damage to land and crops. Several other municipalities in the Andalusian provinces of Cordoba, Granada, Jaen, Seville and Malaga have also banded together to work out the best way to manage the pests in the region.

Although there is only a medium-low population of the wild rabbit in Andalucía, there are some higher populations in concentrated areas which have caused damage and will continue to unless their numbers are controlled, according to an emergency hunting resolution, signed on 30 May, by the Junta de Andalucía's directorate-general for forestry policy and biodiversity.

Easy proliferation

The easy proliferation of these animals is well known. They can be harmful to crops and even to transport infrastructures. It is not for nothing that the million-euro maintenance contracts for the AVE high-speed train lines even includes the control of wild rabbits and, if necessary, their extermination. The animals tend to build their burrows in the slopes and embankments that protect the railway corridor and end up creating holes and hollows that pose a real risk of collapse and landslides. The rail route also offers wild rabbits protection against natural predators, which are becoming increasingly scarce.

Exceptional control and emergency

The hunting control of species, which is always controversial and is opposed by animal rights groups, has, according to authorities, produced good results in the past decade. These measures are described as "exceptional". They were endorsed by the hunting committee of the Andalusian biodiversity council held on 22 May.

The Junta renewed the "emergency hunting" measure due to the damage caused by wild rabbits for the season 2024/2025. The text, published this Tuesday in the official gazette of the Junta de Andalucía (BOJA), includes the legal basis for this decision, which comes from the regional delegations of the provinces outlined.

Which municipalities in Malaga province?

In Malaga province, wild rabbit populations will be controlled in Alameda, Antequera, Archidona, Campillos, Cuevas Bajas, Cuevas de San Marcos, Fuente de Piedra, Humilladero, Mollina, Sierra de Yeguas, Teba, Villanueva de Algaidas, Villanueva de la Concepción and Villanueva de Tapia.

How will they be caught and when?

Live capture with ferrets and nets or with traps may be carried out during the whole hunting season. In the case of firearms, the period is extended from 24 November to 27 April, with the days to be Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The hunting licensee will at all times monitor the process and ensure the rabbits are not harmed. For the use of dogs, the hunting period is extended from 24 November to 2 February. The limit is three dogs per hunter. In the case of the use of falconry birds, the period of use is extended from 24 November to 27 April.

The fate of rabbits

There are local exceptions and different means that could eventually be authorised by the Junta de Andalucía. Possible authorisations for the use of foxes and other predators could occur. The resolution includes all the guidelines to be followed, including the traceability of the animals caught. Wild rabbits captured may be for self-consumption, or their transfer away from the areas where the damage occurs.

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