Toledo, (EFE).- Some 2,500 farmers, according to the organizers, demonstrated this Wednesday in Toledo to request that the Government of Castilla-La Mancha declare the overabundance of rabbits in the region a plague, which is causing some 50 million euros annual losses and whose population is not being controlled by hunting.
The demonstration, which has been called by the Union of Unions of Castilla-La Mancha as ‘Burial of the Rabbit’ (in a nod to the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ that traditionally ends the carnival this Wednesday) has passed through the streets of Toledo, led by by a banner with the slogan ‘Death Has a Price’.
The president of the Union of Unions of Castilla-La Mancha, Andrés García Vaquero, explained that the objective is to get the regional Administration to agree to have meetings to analyze the possibility of declaring an overabundance of rabbits a plague.
They ask for more measures against the overabundance of rabbits
This would allow other measures to be applied, which are added to the hunting that is being authorized through the annual declarations of hunting emergency.
García Vaquero has pointed out that between hunting and the use of poison there are many actions that can be undertaken, among them proceeding to gasification in the areas where breeding centers are concentrated.
These are areas where it is very difficult to reduce the number of rabbits by hunting alone, which is why the agricultural organization proposes that gasification be used using gases that are not harmful (CO2), as has been done with the “vole”. in Castilla y León, Aragon and Catalonia.
They warn that they are not wild rabbits, but “hybrids”
But if a pest is not declared, these types of measures cannot be applied, underlined García Vaquero, who has maintained that the animals that are causing damage are not native wild rabbits, but rather a hybrid animal that was released for the programs of the lynx and the imperial eagle, but that this initiative “has gotten out of hand” for its promoters.
The president of the Union of Unions has assured that there are official documents in which it is recognized that it is “a hybrid rabbit”.
In addition, it has warned that it is breaking the ecosystem, not only because of the damage it does to agriculture, but also because of the damage it causes to many other species of rodents, which it leaves without food, for which they are forced to move or doomed to disappear.
For this reason, it has emphasized the need to declare the plague, since hunting is not being enough to control the overpopulation of rabbits, as evidenced by the fact that the hunting emergency declared by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2017 affected 74 towns in the region, while this year there are 292 affected municipalities, so other alternatives are needed.
They estimate losses of 50 million euros per year
For his part, the spokesman for Victims of the Rabbit Plague, Florentino de Mora, explained that it is estimated that they are causing losses to farmers in Castilla-La Mancha, mainly in the La Mancha area, of about 50 million euro per year.
To make this calculation, De Mora is based on a study prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture with data from the Agroseugo entity, which determines that some 17,800 hectares in Castilla-La Mancha have suffered damage annually since 2012.
Therefore, taking into account that the lands that are insured are 20 percent of the total, it is estimated that there are more than 80,000 hectares affected, with damages of about 50 million euros a year, De Mora pointed out.
In this sense, García Vaquero has asserted that if it is not achieved that the rabbit is balanced with the environment “in addition to charging the ecosystem it will charge agriculture”,
“We do not want the lynx or the imperial eagle to disappear, what we want is for the balance to be restored and the atrophic chain to be recovered using native animals”, De Mora concluded.