Improving Rabbit Restocking Success: A Review of Field Experiments in France

  • Jérôme Letty
  • Jacky Aubineau
  • Stéphane Marchandeau

Restocking is now a common practice in management of European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus in France, Portugal and Spain, following the decline of this species that occurred during the second half of the 20th century. This population decline was mainly due to the global change in the countryside caused by intensification of agriculture in temperate regions and conversely decline in Mediterranean regions, and to the appearance of new epizootics, myxomatosis in the 1950s (Ross and Tittensor 1986), and rabbit hemorrhagic disease in the 1980s (Marchandeau et al. 2000a). In addition, there has often been unsustainable hunting management of European rabbits. The extent of the population decline is shown by the French national bag records survey: 13.5 million rabbits in 1974/75, 6.4 million rabbits in 1983/84 and 3.2 million rabbits in 1998/99 (Arthur and Guénézan 1986; Marchandeau 2000). The European rabbit is not actually endangered, but many of its populations are still declining and cannot support sustained harvesting, which is problematic for hunting and for the conservation of rabbit-specialist predators such as the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), the Imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti), or even the Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus). Therefore, hunters and wildlife managers have promoted rabbit restocking so that in south-western Europe, around half a million rabbits are translocated each year from large natural populations or breeding centres. However, the success of rabbit restocking is known to be generally low (Arthur 1989; Mauvy et al. 1991; Calvete et al. 1997; Letty et al. 2002a).


Release Area Oryctolagus Cuniculus European Rabbit European Hare Iberian Lynx 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jérôme Letty
    • 1
  • Jacky Aubineau
    • 2
  • Stéphane Marchandeau
    • 1
  1. 1.Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Direction des Études et de la RechercheCNERA Petite Faune Sédentaire de PlaineNantesFrance
  2. 2.Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Direction des Études et de la RechercheCNERA Petite Faune Sédentaire de PlaineBeauvoirsur-NiortFrance

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