Right time for rabbit control on the Bellarine Peninsula
3 March 2016
Landholders on the Bellarine Peninsula and broader Geelong region are being reminded that now is the ideal time for rabbit control.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resource (DEDJTR) Biosecurity officers have recently received a number of reports of increased rabbit populations in pockets across the peninsula.
Biosecurity Officer Jesse Miller said late summer and early autumn provides the most effective time of year for rabbit management.
"Breeding has generally ceased and biological control and harsh environmental conditions assist to reduce numbers and undertaking rabbit control during this period will also reduce next season's breeding stock.
He said rabbits are declared established pest animals under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, and that all landholders have a legal responsibility to as far as possible eradicate rabbits from their properties.
"These legislative requirements are in recognition of the direct impact rabbits have on agricultural production through crop and pasture loss and over grazing, leading to reduced livestock carrying capacity.
Mr Miller said rabbits also impacted on the natural environment. "There are over 300 threatened species in Australia adversely affected by competition and land degradation caused by rabbits.
"Landholders planning to undertake rabbit control programs should monitor their properties to determine the extent of the problem and record warren systems and harbour, such as fallen timber and woody weeds," he said.
Mr Miller said rabbit control programs should focus on destruction of warren systems and removal or manipulation of harbour, as rabbits use warrens for shelter from adverse weather, predators and for breeding.
"Removing warren systems and harbour significantly impacts rabbits' ability to breed and rebound.
"Wherever possible, warrens should be ripped using heavy earth moving equipment. Where ripping isn't feasible, fumigation can be undertaken. Effective fumigation may require repeated treatments," he said.
Mr Miller said where rabbit numbers were high, poison baiting may be used to reduce populations prior to ripping and fumigation to minimise warrens re-opening. Poisoning used in isolation won't provide long-term control, as rabbits will rebound quickly, re-invade warrens and re-establish in a short period of time.
He said landholders planning rabbit control programs should discuss their plans with neighbours and look to broaden the scale of the program to reduce the likelihood of re-invasion.
"Rabbits are persistent. Long-term control relies on the landholder being more persistent than the rabbit," he said.
Further information about rabbit control programs on the Bellarine Peninsula can be found at bellarinelandcare.org.au
Please see pest animals for further information regarding invasive animals including rabbit management.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity