LETTER: Bunny peculiar

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The Independent Online
From Mr Derek P. Mitchell

Sir: With regard to your article about the fate of rabbits on the Isle of Man ("A tale of Flopsy, Mopsy and public enemy No 1", 13 October), the disappearance of the old Rangoon Corporation following the Japanese invasion and occupation of Burma in 1942 and its replacement by a military administration was not a change for the better.

One consequence was an increase in the rat population to a dangerous level. The Japanese issued an edict requiring every head of household each week to bring in a specified number of rat-tails to the local centre. The penalty for defaulting was to be taken by truck, along with all those fellow citizens who also had failed in their civic duty, to a dropping- off point near the old Mingladon airfield, about 15 miles away, and left to walk back.

At first there were large numbers making the weekly trudge homewards. But in a comparatively short time almost no one was failing to make the weekly quota and a satisfactory number of tails was being collected, with much self-congratulation all round. Until, that is, several rat breeding farms were discovered in and around the city, all making a useful living - selling tails.

The Department of Agriculture in the Isle of Man has learnt a lesson at a cost of pounds 92,400 - a lesson the Japanese learnt in Burma more than 50 years ago at the cost of face.

Perhaps the rabbits of Man should be left to be controlled by their natural predators; always assuming that these have not been the subject of an earlier campaign of elimination.

Yours faithfully,

Derek P. Mitchell

Pott Shrigley, Cheshire

14 October

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