In the Iberian Peninsula the rabbit has become a paradigm of an ecological and economic problem with two very different faces: abundance or scarcity. In some regions – generally agricultural landscapes where there is poor natural vegetation cover and so few predators – rabbit populations are on the increase.

Traditionally, low fences were installed to prevent rabbits entering cultivated areas but this practice is becoming less widespread. Another commonly employed measure is the use of protective covering for fruit trees. Nevertheless, it is unknown how successful this measure is. The project PreveCo has carried out field trials to test the efficiency of these and other measures and the results can be consulted on its webpage: The following is a summary of the protection measures that, according to the results of this project, have been most successful.


Click on the image to see the manual

The results of the PreveCo confirm that, of the 16 measures tested for herbaceous crops, most have reduced damage by rabbits by over 70%: fences (81.3%), scarers (75.3%), electric fences (73.7%) and vigilance. Other measures including the use of ecological products that inhibit the attraction rabbits feel for crops (95.8%) are still being tested.

The Manual de prevención de daños en la agricultura producidos por el conejo (free access and download) describes the results obtained from the trials run by the group PreveCo.


The commonest way of reducing the damage caused by wild animals is to increase the hunting pressure. As the results of the PreveCo reflect, this practice can be highly effective if properly carried out. However, it requires meticulous planning and execution at a number of different levels.

Territorial planning is vital for ensuring that the correct level of hunting pressure is maintained and that there is no negative environmental impact. It is crucial that the hunting pressure is applied at the appropriate sites in each hunting area.

Currently, territorial hunting planning is developed via the declaration of emergency areas, which helps increase the pressure by facilitating the obtaining of permits. Detailed planning is not usually performed and should be undertaken via coordinated groups at municipal level.

Coordination groups

If rabbit populations are to be managed in a holistic fashion, there must be coordination between farmers and hunters in each area and the local coordination group. It is also recommended to implement other management actions that can lead to high rabbit densities (e.g. the management of cuttings and the removal of stones from fields) and a strict control of the factors that can lead to low rabbit densities.


Given the complexity of the factors that affect rabbit populations and the difficulties involved in controlling them, it is recommendable wherever possible to combine various types of management measures to increase their overall effectiveness. This may also help reduce costs. For example, increased hunting may not significantly reduce the damage to crops but, if combined with fences, can be highly effective.

These good practices also need maintenance and, for instance, increasing hunting pressure for just one year will not be sufficient and this extra pressure must be maintained over time. Fences must be periodically checked to patch up any holes that may appear.

Involve the competent administrations

The competent Administrations must implement instruments or tools that facilitate the implementation of prevention measures, such as, for example, through agri-environmental measures or facilitation of the appropriate permits for their implementation.