Run Rabbit

When was the last time you saw a rabbit – dead or alive? Despite its reputation, a BTO survey suggests European rabbit numbers in the UK have declined by around 60 per cent over the last 20 years. In turn, other species from birds to invertebrates are also suffering as a result.

Tom Heap tracks down the story. Myxomatosis wiped out the majority of the population in the 50s and 60s and can still affect the young but now scientists are concerned about Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease. Ironically this is deliberately released in some countries as a deliberate way to control the population but is thought to be behind large-scale declines in the UK through spreading naturally. He visits areas which have seen numbers disappear, to hear what they’re doing about it and concerns it may pass on to other species. Now groups are asking walkers and cyclists to log rabbit sightings to get a broader picture of numbers but should we really be working on an antidote?

Mammal Mapper

Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.

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