Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rabbit Proof Fence


In the early 1900s, the Australian government endeavored to construct a pest-exclusion fence across the Outback in order to prevent rabbits and other animals that were deemed to be agricultural pests out of the country's pastoral regions in the west. The fence was completed in 1907 and stretched for over 2000 miles. The fence posts were placed 12 feet apart and held three wires of 12½ gauge placed at 4 inches, 20 inches and 3 feet above ground with barbed wire being added later for protection against dingos. A netting of wire was placed over this and buried to a depth of at least six inches below ground. Unfortunately, the fence became less of a priority after the Australian government introduced a virus prevalent in rabbits elsewhere to cull the population. Since death from myxomatosis can take up to fourteen days, this seems a cruel and inefficient solution, because surviving rabbits carry a resistance to the virus.

As for the garden, we opted out of biological warfare and have begun to install a netting of galvanized chicken wire on the pre-existing fence surrounding the garden. We use chicken wire that is 36" wide, which can be purchased for around $1.60 per foot from any home improvement or hardware store. This height ensures ample room to bury part of the fence around the perimeter of the garden while retaining enough material to cover spaces to the top rung of the wooden fence. It is recommended that a trench be dug about 6" deep and 8" deep. This 6" buffer will prevent the rabbits from tunneling their way under the fencing and into the garden-an integral part of wild rabbit control. After the trench was dug and the wire placed, we back-filled the trench back in with plenty of soil (especially around the posts to retain stability), The wire can then be stapled, nailed or tied to the existing posts and fencing.

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