The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas Et Prævalebit. MONDAY, AUGUST 18, 1890. STOATS AND WEASELS.
Stoats and weasels, the natural enemy of the rabbit, are being introduced into the colony m a wholesale manner, and at great cost to the State. Each stoat or weasel landed costs the taxpayers £2 or £2 5s } and as the expenditure is still going on, it may be advisable to pause and ask whether it is advisable to rid the colony of one pest by introducing another. During the recent discussion which took place m the House, the Minister of Lauds gave it as his opinion that the colony would do well if ten times the amount of money were expended yearly m buying stoats and weasels; but the country's representatives do not appear to hare endorsed this view. A sum of £1000 remained unexpended of a previous vote, and a disposition was shown to prevent this balance being spent. Members shook their heads gravely, and the Tote was passed reluctantly. It is gradually dawning upon the country that though the rabbits are a pest, the pest is not an unmixed evil. The skins of rabbits' are a valuable article of export, but the vermin being introduced for the rabbits' destruction have no commercial value, are vicious and destructive, and when the rabbit is exterminated will attack lambs, poultry, and game, and every living inhabitant of the field and forest. Already numerous complaints are being heard from different parts of the colony m regard to the depredations of ferrets, which have not hesitated to attack even sleeping infants and children, and generally prefer the farmer's poultry to the farmer's enemy, the rabbit. These murmurs will sooner or later take a more decided form when the vermin now being recklessly introduced overspread the land, and ere long Parliament will be petitioned, and taxpayers will be heavily taxed, to suppress a pest ten times more formidable than the harmless rabbit, which disappears as close settlement advances. By the means at present m use, —placing the responsibility upon owners of land to keep their holding> free from rabbits, — the rabbit evil is abating. Complaints of the ravages of rabbits are now less frequent, and travellers through the infested districts all agree m the opinion that " bunny" is slowly but surely disappearing. In face of this evidence it is sheer madness to persist m overrunning the country with stoats and weasels, and similar vermin. Large land-owners m the southern part of this island and m the North Island, find it irksome to engage a few rabbiters for several months m the year m order to comply with the conditions of rabbit suppression ; but that is no reason why tlie colony should import, at great expense, a pest which it will cost a mint of money to exterminate, and which will do more damage to flocks and poultry m the immediate future than colonists now dream of. In the growing of wool and mutton there is not so great an expenditure m labour that holders cannot afford to continue on the present; slow and sure system of keeping the rabbit evil under by means of trapping and poison. Bj these means rabbit-skins and fur are turned to commercial advantage, but under the system of destruction by means of stoats and weasels these ■valuable articles of export are destroyed, and the country is overrun with a class of vermin which is likely to prove a thorn m the side of agriculturalists and pastoralists.