Pest animals

Rabbits are a serious threat to our production and biodiversity

Rabbits have devastated the Australian environment. They have changed ecosystems by eating native plants, out-competing native animals and causing erosion by digging warrens. Domestic rabbits are also a threat if they escape. Owners of domestic rabbits have legal obligations under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019.

European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are a serious invasive pest in Australia. Rabbits cause millions of dollars in damage through extensive damage to crops, pastures and native vegetation. They also contribute to erosion issues and can damage dam walls. Rabbits are difficult to control, requiring constant landholder action to manage.

Rabbits construct burrows that enable them to survive a wide range of environmental conditions. They adapt to a wide range of food types and their ability to graze plants to ground level contributes to the enormous damage they cause.

Maintaining pressure on rabbits each year improves farm productivity, reduces food resources for foxes and feral cats and helps to protect remnant native vegetation and wildlife habitat. It is the legal responsibility of the land owner to control rabbits on their property under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019.

Using a range of methods and coordinating with your neighbours to control rabbits over the summer season produces great results and restricts rapid recovery of the rabbit population in Autumn.

What you can do to manage feral rabbits

  • Exclude rabbits from revegetation areas and gardens using suitable guards and fencing
  • Bait with pindone-treated carrots in summer. These can be sourced from us through our office or at one of our distribution days in February and March.
  • Bait with pindone-treated oats – these can be purchased from some hardware stores and ag stores
  • Bait with RHDV K5 treated carrots sourced from one of our distribution days in February and March.
  • Destroy or collapse warrens and remove shelter, clean up piles of green waste, prunings and branches, and deal with those piles of pallets.
  • Talk to your neighbours and get them involved to achieve wider rabbit control in your area.

Benefits of controlling rabbits on properties

Want to learn more about safe and successful baiting methods? The two short videos below explain how to bait with K5 calicivirus and with Pindone carrots. If followed correctly, you’ll be rewarded with a significant reduction in rabbit numbers!

K5 rabbit calicivirus control program

Using pindone to control feral rabbits

Download these fact sheets:

Tips for baiting with Pindone

All the bait active ingredients sold by Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu are regulated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. To limit the potential for off-target impacts we dye the pindone treated carrots green. We strongly encourage you to pre-feed with unbaited carrots – this will help determine the places where rabbits prefer to feed. Baits are generally sold over summer and autumn for rabbit control.

Lay baits in the evening, pick up any uneaten baits the following morning and dispose of them via deep burial. Dead rabbits should also be buried deeply to avoid other animals feeding on the carcasses.

The concentration of pindone used in baits means that rabbits need to have multiple feeds to enable it to build up in the system. If you suspect that your pet has eaten Pindone treated carrots then it is likely to get sick but is unlikely to die if it has eaten small amounts. We suggest you take it to the vet immediately just to be sure.

Pet rabbits and calicivirus

If you keep pet rabbits then you must ensure they can’t escape. Calicivruses and Myxomatosis move through the landscape without assistance from government agencies or landholders. Baiting with RHDV K5 Calicivirus enables landholders to target where the virus is in the landscape. To help protect pets rabbits ensure they don’t come into contact with feral rabbits. It is also wise to vaccinate your rabbit from calicivirus. This factsheet has some great information and guidance

Controlling foxes

Foxes are recognised as major predators and are a threat to Australia’s native animals. They also affect sheep farmers during lambing season and can cause concerns for the community around pets and unsecured poultry.

Updated Material Safety Data Sheets for 1080 products are available on PIRSA's website.

Controlling deer

Within the Hills and Fleurieu region, escaped fallow deer have become feral and are increasingly being reported. These animals have an impact on primary production, pose a biosecurity risk, cause environmental destruction and are a social pest. The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board aims to reduce the escape of domestic deer by inspecting deer farms every two years. If you see tagged deer on your property please either notify the board or your local deer farm. Tagged deer are classified as feral if they are not retrieved within 7 days of the farmer being notified. Feral deer are the responsibility of the landholder to manage if you need advice please contact us at our Mount Barker office.

Controlling goats

Goats arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 as a source of meat and milk. Feral goat herds established when domestic goats escaped, were abandoned or were deliberately released. Feral goats are now found in all states and territories of Australia, as well as some off-shore islands. They cost the agricultural industry millions of dollars each year and pose a significant threat to biodiversity and landscape health. They decimate pasture, crops and fences, cause erosion to hillsides and watercourses, spread weeds, prevent regeneration of native vegetation and impact our vulnerable ecosystems. 'Competition and land degradation by feral goats’ is listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Feral goats also pose a serious health risk to humans, livestock and native animals. They can spread notifiable diseases such as footrot, and possibly even exotic animal diseases (such as foot-and-mouth) if introduced to Australia. Feral goats have no natural predators in the Hills and Fleurieu. This, combined with their fast reproductive rate, means they are very high in number, and need to be controlled.

Regional Grazing Pressure management of feral deer and goats

Grazing pressure from large herbivores can have substantial impacts on primary production, native vegetation, and threatened flora and fauna. The Regional Grazing Pressure Management project implements a strategic and coordinated approach to reducing the impacts of feral goals, feral deer and impact-causing western grey kangaroos in the Hills and Fleurieu region.
In partnership with National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, Forestry SA, SA Water and private landholders, the project delivers grazing pressure management through specialist staff-led operations, and the use of contractors and volunteers to deliver targeted outcomes. We are working towards an eradication target for feral goats in our region, and supporting PIRSA with their 10-year SA feral deer eradication program.

If you see any feral goats or deer, it's really important to report it.

How to report sightings of feral goats or deer

The FeralScan website allows the reporting of feral species sightings, and will trigger an alert to our grazing pressure management team, who can better understand where sub-populations are residing and how to best plan control programs.

Alternatively, contact Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu on 8391 7500 or email

What is being done to manage pests?

The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board has a clearly defined approach to managing pests. The pest management hierarchy recommends management actions for target pest plants and animals. This helps improve detection and response to new and existing pests based on their invasiveness, impact, potential distribution and feasibility of containing it.

Read more about our Regional Grazing Pressure Management project here.

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