Rabbits: a costly pest

 Did you know that rabbits are Australian agriculture’s most costly pest animal? Annual costs exceed $200 million!

Pioneer Thomas Austin freed about a dozen rabbits on his property near Geelong, Victoria, in 1859 and by 1910 feral rabbits had covered  most of their present range. This spread was despite control efforts such as the Western Australian Government’s 1700 kilometer rabbit-proof fence, built between 1901 and 1907.

Were you aware that Australian native vegetation is very sensitive to rabbit damage? As few as 0.5 rabbits per hectare can remove all seedlings of the more palatable native trees and shrubs!

Rabbits have been attributed to the extinction of several small  ground-dwelling mammals in Australia’s arid lands and have contributed to the decline of many native plants and animals.

National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow

Attendees at the National Rabbit Roadshow hosted by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group.

People attending the National Rabbit Roadshow were highly impressed by the evidence presented by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and Victoria’s Department of Environment and Primary Industries. It was shown that methods for removing rabbits are generally well researched.

Poisoning, warren ripping and fumigation (when used in combination, rather than as a single treatment) can effectively control, and can even eradicate, the animal. This is particularly so when the methods are used at the right time of year to maximise their effectiveness.

Local landholder and Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group vice chair, Marion Lofthouse, left the event with a new perspective on rabbit control.

“I didn’t realise that an initial up-front investment in rabbit control, using a combination of methods, could provide a sustained effect over many, many years,” Mrs Lofthouse said. ‘Doing the job properly in the first place makes rabbit control a cost-effective farm practice in the longer term.”

Rabbits and their control

The rabbit- a declared pest.

The rabbit- a declared pest.

Are you interested in controlling rabbits on your own property? Perhaps you would prefer getting a group of landholders together for landscape-scale control?

Either way, get in touch with the Peel-Harvey Biosecurity Group at info@peelharveybiosecurity.info. We can provide you with updates in this space, including the rollout of the bio-control agent, RHDV1 K5 across Australia.

 

Click here for more information.

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