Spain has been suffering from drought for a long time. The situation in Catalonia is particularly difficult – there farmers have to deal not only with water shortages, but also with a plague of rabbits. Lagomorphs damage crops, especially young wheat and barley, as well as vines and fruit trees. The authorities gave permission for the shooting of animals and the use of poisonous chemical preparations to fight them.
Drought is taking its toll in Spain. The lack of rainfall wreaks havoc on agricultural areas. Some bodies of water are only 50 percent full. The president of the autonomous government of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, said that in and around Barcelona people are struggling with one of the “worst droughts in 50 years”. One piece of evidence for this is the 11th-century village of Sant Romà de Sau, which disappeared under water in 1963 when a dam was built nearby. Now the water level is so low that the remains of historic buildings re-emerge to the surface.
There is no rain on the horizon. According to forecasts, in the last days of April it will be very hot, which will further increase water shortages.
Drought and hungry rabbits
Water reserves in Catalonia are running out. Local farmers are struggling not only with the drought itself, but also with its consequences, such as the plague of hungry and thirsty rabbits. In the absence of grass and water, tens of thousands of these animals destroy crops, especially baby wheat and barley. They also gnaw on vines and bark fruit trees.
– Many factors contributed to the rapid increase in the rabbit population. First – there was a pandemic, when no one could hunt them for two years. Secondly – they became resistant to myxomatosis (a viral disease of rabbits, usually transmitted by ticks – ed.). And it should be noted that rabbits reproduce very quickly, a female can give birth to seven or eight offspring every two months, noted Alex Foix, a farmer from the village of Verdú in the province of Lleida.
They will shoot rabbits and poison them
The Catalan authorities plan to cull more than 250,000 rabbits by September to contain the plague. However, it can be difficult if only because there are not enough hunters in the area. Therefore, the authorities also allowed the use of rodenticides, i.e. agents used to fight rodents, but also deadly for rabbits, which are lagomorphs. This is aluminum phosphide, which, when introduced into burrows, releases toxic phosphorus gas.
“If there is no rain in April and we have another year like last year, the vines will not survive,” said another farmer in the Verdú area, Juan Samboda, a member of Pagesos o Conills (Farmers or Rabbits).
ENEX, euronews.com, eu.usatoday.com, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: ENEX