The Rabbit Problem

The site of the original McKissick Ranch on the Madeline Plains.

The desert homesteaders of eastern Lassen County encountered numerous problems in their quest to make their land there productive. One unassuming predator they had to deal with was the rabbit. In 1920, the residents of the Madeline Plains requested aid from their Congressman, John E. Raker, to help them with this particular problem. A study sent to Raker reported: “As soon as the crops are up and making good progress the rabbits begin work on them. The heaviest damage is done during August. One rancher reported losing 100 acres of wheat last summer. They take this crop in preference to oats and rye. It was reported that 70 tons of rabbit meat [to make tamales] had been shipped last season to the San Francisco market. It appears that the animals cannot be killed fast enough in this region to furnish relief to the ranches.”


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