Trove – National Library of Australia

The West Australian – Saturday 15 January 1898


It was recently explained in this journal that the Commissioner of Crown Lands
(Mr. George Throssell) had placed the duty of coping with the rabbit pest in the
South-east of the colony in the hands of the Chief Inspector of Stock (Mr. J. Morton Craig). For some weeks past Mr. Craig has been in communication with various people on the subject, and, as will be seen from his report to the Minister, which is published below, he has recommended Mr.
Horace J. Page to be the leader of a reconnoitering party to proceed to the district with a view of determining the western limit to which the rodents have made their way, so as to be in a position to determine where the rabbit-proof fence is to be erected. The party will also be supplied with the necessary requisites for the killing of all the rodents met with during its' travels, such as poison, firearms, native trackers, and dogs. Mr. Craig's report is as follows :

January 14,1898.

" I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your minute of the 11th ult., with the accompanying minute of the hon. the Commissioner for Crown Lands, placing the extermination of the rabbit pest under my control. In reply, I beg to express my thanks to the hon. the Minister and to yourself for the complimentary references to me therein contained.
" The delay in replying has been caused in the first place by the Minister's request that before taking action we should await Mr. Graham's promised communication from Eyre, and, secondly, in selecting from the numerous applicants for the positions of rabbit inspectors the best qualified men.
" Mr. Graham's communication has been received, and I enclose it herewith. You will observe he states that rabbits are numerous fifty miles east of Eyre, and recommends the use of treacle and arsenic as the most advisable method of destroying the rodents. His son also offers his services, and that of six camels, a native tracker, and equipment for the year for £350. I have made inquiries relative to the capabilities of young Graham as leader of a party of men to scout the country and report on work done, and I am afraid he is rather young and inexperienced for such an undertaking, although I feel satisfied he would be a capital assistant to any one of more mature years, and more experienced in the habits of rabbits. I understand he is a thorough bushman, and speaks the native language well. With these qualifications, I think we could not do better than accept his offer, say, at the rate of £350 a year, as I do not anticipate it will take that time to decide where to place the fence.
From the numerous applicants for positions in connection with the rabbit extirpation, I have decided to recommend the appointment as leader of a reconnoitering party Mr.
Horace J. Page, whose testimonials show that he is in every respect qualified for the position.
"I have also had a personal interview with Mr.
Page, and am satisfied about his qualifications. The party will consist of Mr. Page, Mr. Graham, two native trackers, six camels provided by Mr. Graham, and will be placed under the absolute control of Mr. Page, who is prepared to start at once for Israelite Bay for the purpose of joining Mr. Graham.
" I wish it to be understood that, in my opinion, any attempt to exterminate the pest, or even to appreciably lessen their numbers by any number of men over such a vast, waterless, unoccupied country as is now known to be infested, would only be a reckless waste of the public funds; therefore I suggest the time of the party should be occupied in determining how far into our territory the rabbits have encroached, so as to determine the starting point for a line of fence.
"In view of the enormous stretches of unoccupied country between Eucla and Albany, and the small area stocked, together with the fact that the days of shepherding sheep are over, it has occurred to me that the most economical way to deal with the question would be to fence any holdings in danger of rabbit invasion with a rabbit-proof fence, exterminating those which might be fenced in, and leaving those outside in possession of the waste lands until they reach the belts of poison country, when the effect of the poison weeds on the rodent will be ascertained. I am strengthened in this opinion by the fact that in no colony, despite the millions spent in trying extermination, have rabbits
been checked in their onward marches.
Page requires £5 per week, and 16s. per week for providing a native tracker. This amount, together with Mr. Graham's offer, will cost the Government at the rate of about £650 per year, but a few month should be sufficient to do the work required, if you approve of these appointments I can then take immediate action."

Trove – National Library of Australia
South Australian Register – Monday 8 August 1898

PERTH, Sunday, August 7.
Horace Page, who is examining the
country east of Esperance and Dundas to
determine the western limits of rabbit incur
sion, has arrived at Eyre, and has telegraphed
to the Stock Department stating that
he was unable to discover any rabbits
until he arrived at the neighbourhood
of Eyre. It had been reported that
rabbits existed in tbe neighbourhood of
Norseman and Dundas, but he was totally
unable to find any traces in that locality.
Signs of rabbits were numerous near Eyre.
He believes that rabbits may be found south
west along the coast and westward, through
the saltbush country. He does not think that
the pest has obtained an extensive hold, and
considers that a rabbit-fence, starting at
Point Dempster, Israelite Bay, and extending
150 miles inland, would be sufficient to check
its advance.