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Multiple severe myxomatosis outbreaks across the UK

Myxomatosis was introduced in the 1950s to reduce numbers

The Scottish SPCA confirmed that Elgin in north-east Scotland has suffered an outbreak of myxomatosis.

Bodies of wild rabbits have been spotted in the fields on the outskirts of Elgin, and over the past week the Scottish SPCA has received several calls about dead and sick rabbits. There have been reports of up to 100 bodies lying in the fields, with many more rabbits still alive but clearly suffering from the virus. Outbreaks were also confirmed last week in South Walney Nature Reserve in Cumbria, as well as in Stroud in June.

The myxomatosis virus was intentionally introduced by humans into the wild in the 1950s with the purpose of eradicating rabbits in Australia and Europe.

ST contributor Tim Maddams, former head chef at River Cottage Canteen and based in Moray near the outbreaks, said: “Rabbit population pockets just start to get going again and then they collapse due to myxomatosis. It has for some time been difficult to acquire good rabbiting and even the meat has become rather scarce via the gamedealers, not only in Scotland but across the UK.”

This story first appeared in Shooting Times, Britain’s oldest and best-selling shooting magazine. Published every Wednesday, the 141-year-old title has long been at the coalface of the countryside, breaking the stories that matter to you. Subscribe here.