People power turning tide in the fight against rabbits
7 April 2016
There are big changes underway today in the long battle against wild rabbits in communities right across country Victoria.
It has been over 150 years since rabbits were first introduced in this state. Since then we have had myxomatosis disease in the 1950's, the calicivirus in 1995 and now a new strain of calicivirus to be released in 2016/17.
However, as the rabbit population has been exposed to calicivirus, we won't experience the knock downs of the past. New, more socially oriented tactics are also being prioritised.
Michael Reid, the appointed National Rabbit Facilitator, emphasises while rabbits don't stop at fences, unfortunately many humans do.
"The next battle against rabbits will be defined by the way we shrewdly work together to control rabbits," Mr Reid said.
"The key problem is rabbits breed well, like rabbits and we can easily forget how quickly populations can rebound.
"If we are going to outsmart the rabbits we must have a co-ordinated and sustained effort exploiting the skills and insights of everyone affected.
"We have spent significant time mapping all the different stakeholders involved in rabbit management, and developing the best ways of working together."
The program is now being piloted in Victoria, guided by a joint community-government steering committee and building a network of rabbit expertise through the Victorian Rabbit Action Network.
An example of the new approach is a project with the Bellarine Landcare group.
A "Rabbit Action Bellarine" working group will coordinate the roll out right across the region.
Rabbits are a hot topic among primary producers on the Peninsula, and the new pilot is ensuring activities are not just business as usual.
Emma Camileri, the Bellarine Landcare Facilitator, said the working group will provide both technical support and training to assist cluster leaders in engaging neighbouring properties.
"It means face-to-face conversations so local farmers and residents properly understand what we need to do to tackle rabbits in one big cooperative effort," Ms Camilieri said.
"There have been many failed attempts to control rabbits in the Bellarine area, so trying something different, and with a joined up community-led program, is an encouraging way to tackle the rabbit issue."
A short clip on the program can be viewed online.
Other projects funded in the region through the Small Grants include:
- The Geelong Landcare Network, Surf Coast and Inland Plains Landcare Network with the Upper Barwon Landcare Network. Murray Johns, Landcare Facilitator can be contacted on 0455 500 542 for comment.
- Bass Coast Landcare Network, Robbie Gray, can be contacted for further details on 0448 386 724.
Categorised under: Biosecurity