Spain farmers prosecuted for throwing rabbits

by Lorraine Williamson

Images of rabbits being thrown against the entrance of an agricultural building in Lleida went viral in Spain last week. Farmers used rabbits to make it clear that they demand action from the local government against the rabbit infestation in their fields. 

While many people find bunnies especially cute and love to keep them as pets, farmers in Catalonia can shoot them. This literally happened last week, which caused shocked reactions from environment and animal rights organisations. Last Friday, images went viral on the internet of demonstrating farmers in Lleida. The farmers were throwing rabbits at the entrance to the building of the territorial agricultural services in Lleida. 

Spanish animal rights organisations are taking legal action against perpetrators 

Animal rights organisations, PACMA and Lex Ànima announced on Tuesday that they would take criminal action against these perpetrators. They speak of ‘animal abuse resulting in death’. 

On Friday, PACMA shared a piece of this horrific footage on social media.

WARNING: these images can be experienced as shocking. The short video shows how dead and live rabbits are thrown against the glass doors of the building and land on the floor. Subsequently, the bunnies were trampled by a mob of farmers despite warnings from a police officer present. 

Demonstrating farmers demand regional government intervention against rabbit plague 

The farmers demand permission from the government to use more drastic means to protect their fields against rabbits. Some examples of this are the ability to hunt at night, placing hunting nets at night and the use of toxic substances to kill the animals. Meanwhile, the animal rights groups PACMA and Lex Ànima regret that farmers have chosen this way of mistreating live animals to make their point. 

Precisely humans are one of the causes of the overpopulation of rabbits 

Although farmers want the regional government to intervene against the overpopulation of rabbits in certain areas of Catalonia, Lex Ànima says that human intervention is one of the main reasons why there are so many rabbits now. For example, many natural predators of rabbits – birds of prey, foxes and wolves – have been reduced or even disappeared by humans over the years. Fields also attract rabbits as they have unlimited access to food. 

Environmental disaster threatens if farmers’ demands are met 

A report by Lex Ànima warns of an environmental disaster if toxic substances such as aluminum phosphide are used to control rabbits. This not only affects the rabbits themselves, but the entire food chain, which can also affect plants and people. 

For these reasons, the animal rights organisation is trying to call on farmers to tackle the problem at the root and not just fight the consequences. “Hunting, poison and violence do not solve anything, they only exacerbate the conflict,” says Lex Ànima. 

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