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Introduced Animals - Costerfield District

Campaspe Plains Station was first and foremost used to graze sheep and, although there was evidence of sheep and cattle grazing in the selection files, no records were found of their numbers. Rabbits and hares were introduced as part of a programme conducted by Acclimatisation Societies which were formed to help the new settlers stamp the English mark on Australia (e.g. Powell 1976). Rabbits were released by Thomas Austin near Geelong in 1859 as well as other incidents such as the escape from a warren near Castlemaine in 1863 when a bushfire burnt down a fence (Stodart and Parer 1988). The liberation of hares took place in 1869 from Spring Plains Station, which was one of the stations located on the southern border of Campaspe Plains Station (see European settlement). The following passage was written in a local newspaper about the release of the English hare.

“... This is the first effort at acclimatisation which has been made in this district, and we most sincerely wish Mr. Churchward every success, and most devoutly hope that his "little game" may prosper. May his hares increase and multiply exceedingly, and overrun the country ; so that at some future, and not very distant date, the good people of McIvor will be able, through his means, to enjoy some good old English sport, and the epicure be enabled to relish that now rare delicacy-jugged hare. Should the enterprise succeed-and there is every prospect of that-we understand that it is Mr. Churchward's intention to add to his present stock, so as to thoroughly carry into effect the work of acclimatising the hare into this district of the colony. At present, there are very few parts of the colony to which the hare has been introduced; but the success which has attended Mr. Lyall and Mr. Austin, should be sufficient to embolden others to follow their example”. (The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, 19 February 1869).

The severity of the problem was such that by the early 1880s the commonly held view was that:

“(h)ares are to be tolerated, because they are acceptable as food, and it is believed they keep down the rabbits ...” which “... are numerous enough closes (sic) to the town now to give room for anxiety as regards the future ...” (The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, 31 August 1881).

    A decade later, in the 25 June 1891 edition of the same newspaper, the number of foxes in the district was reported to be increasing rapidly. Thousands of acres of Crown Land, which were only inhabited by rabbits and a few men employed to kill them, served as ideal breeding places.
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