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Department of Primary Industries:
Rabbit Control Vital In Dry Conditions

Ideal environment for an unseasonal growth in the population of juvenile rabbits

By DNRE - 21st November 2002 - Back to News

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The current dry conditions that are moving through Gippsland are creating an ideal environment for an unseasonal growth in the population of juvenile rabbits.

As some landholders may be moving into a planning phase to deal with the dry conditions, they are reminded to include European rabbit control in their pasture and production management strategies.

The European rabbit is a declared pest animal, with serious implications for loss of production, soil erosion and impacts on native flora and fauna. Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act, landholders must take all reasonable steps to control this pest animal. Failure to do so could result in prosecution under this Act.

There are various measures that landholders can implement for the control of rabbits. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) recommends that no single, isolated measure is used, but that an integrated management plan is developed, including all measures relevant and appropriate for a particular landholder and property.

Some techniques that can be used are:

  • Harbour removal – the removal of blackberries, log heaps and other places that provide cover for rabbits to breed.
  • Biological control – using Calicivirus or myxomatosis. It is important to remember that environmental factors can produce inconsistent results and they should not be seen as the only method of control, or used as a ‘quick fix’ method.
  • Trapping, fumigating, ferreting, shooting (when appropriately licensed and in approved areas) and warren destruction are all methods of control that can be used in an integrated approach to rabbit control, preferably involving neighbouring landholders, so everyone is working together on the solution.

The recent "Rabbit Free" accreditation for four Gippsland landholders demonstrates the power of an integrated approach and the value of using resources that NRE, Catchment Management Authorities and other landholders can provide in reducing rabbit numbers in the region.

For more information and assistance, please contact your Catchment Management Officer at your local NRE office.


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