Find out about Rabbit Control within the City of Whittlesea
Rabbits are one of the most widespread and abundant pest animals in Australia. They cause an estimated $31M per annum loss to the Victorian agriculture industry, and between $113M – $206M nationally. Impacts to the environment are significant, with rabbit grazing preventing regeneration and displacing native flora and fauna. Feral rabbits are a threat to approximately 154 native flora/fauna species.
The European Rabbit is a declared established pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act. This means that all land owners must take all reasonable steps to prevent their spread and eradicate them where possible.
A broadscale, coordinated attack to remove all rabbits from an area is a feasible, long-term management option if there is a concerted effort between neighbouring stakeholders. However, effective landscape-scale control is only possible if all rabbit prone areas are treated. Costs may be high initially, but ongoing and future costs are substantially reduced. Participating landholders need to monitor the area over time to ensure there is no reinvasion, however benefits are high given that no further action should be necessary.
Council is currently leading a 3-year, $450,000 pest animal project funded by the state government. The project includes a target area for rabbit action, and Council is coordinating a contractor to assist neighbouring landowners with monitoring and control.
Council’s conservation team manages rabbits within key conservation reserves.
There are very few available methods for rabbit control that are inherently humane. However, the most humane control program is one that is most effective and carried out by a skilled operator in accordance with best practice.
Baiting is the preferred method to significantly reduce pest animal numbers prior to implementing other control methods. There are strict requirements governing the use, supply and management of baits in Victoria.
1080 bait products are subject to regulatory control in Victoria and require a specific permit and endorsement for use. Native animals have a tolerance to 1080 which reduces the likelihood of off-target native animal fatalities. There is no known antidote to 1080 poisoning.
Pindone has an antidote, vitamin K, which makes it a more appropriate bait for urban environments.
Ripping is the mechanical destruction of warrens. Ripping is recognised as the primary control method to achieve and maintain a long-term reduction in rabbit numbers, however it is most effective when incorporated into an integrated program, using a variety of techniques. Where appropriate, baiting programs should knock down the rabbit population by at least 95% prior to ripping. This will limit the populations ability to rebound and build up after the initial control effort.
Fumigation is used for the humane destruction of rabbits in their warrens by delivery of lethal levels of toxic gas. This can be an expensive and labour-intensive technique and thus should be used to support a baiting program, and in areas where warren ripping is inappropriate (waterways, restricted access, cultural heritage and native vegetation areas).
Off-target impacts will be minimised where a control program is undertaken in strict accordance with best practice and by a skilled operator.