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Call for landowners to control rabbits

News release
10 September 2021

With rabbit numbers expected to spike in in the coming months, the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board is warning landholders to prepare and calling on people to align their control efforts to have maximum impact. Landholders are encouraged to complete a short online survey to help the board bulk-purchase discounted virus and poison baits and schedule its free rabbit control workshops and distribution days.

Rabbits are one of Australia’s worst pests, costing the agricultural industry millions of dollars each year and posing a significant threat to biodiversity and landscape health. Rabbits overgraze pasture and crops, cause erosion, prevent regeneration of native vegetation and impact our vulnerable ecosystems. Rabbits are able to have up to 20 young a year, and numbers can increase rapidly when the conditions suit.

Susan Ivory, Team Leader Pests and Land, and her team at the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board are encouraging landholders to plan ahead and work with their neighbours.

“Landholders are telling us they’re seeing significantly more rabbits in the last few years. We are preparing and we’re calling on landholders to plan too because we need to work together. Controlling rabbits one property at a time is much less effective than working with your neighbours. We can help landholders run effective controls in a coordinated way that will be cheaper and have benefits across the region – for natural habitat, for pastures and crops.”

Control methods available to landholders include virus release (K5 Calicivirus), baiting, fumigation, destroying of warrens and burrows, trapping, ferreting and exclusion fencing. The best approach is a combination of methods done in collaboration with neighbouring properties. Timing and sequence is also important.

A typical control program combining a range of these methods would involve the release of Calicivirus in spring/summer followed with baiting with ‘pindone’ carrots and finished off by removal of shelters and destruction of warrens where possible.

“Calicivirus on its own has a knockdown rate of around 40%. It’s a great start but still leaves a lot of rabbits. The workshops we’re offering will give landholders confidence they can make a difference. Call up a neighbour and encourage them to complete the survey too,” Ms. Ivory said.

The survey asks landholders to register their interest for various control options as well as distribution and workshop days. Results will help the Board better respond to community needs.

If landholders in the Hills and Fleurieu region don’t want to participate in a distribution day they can make an appointment at either of the Board’s offices in Mount Barker or Willunga to prepare a control program and purchase discounted pindone carrots.

“At this stage we are planning for a couple of distribution days for the Calicivirus in early December. Just how many we run will be informed by the survey results,” said Ms. Ivory.

Landholders in the Cudlee Creek Fire area may also be entitled to additional support for rabbit management, and are encouraged to complete the survey.

Register your interest in implementing a control program now by completing the online survey or contacting the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board on 8391 7500 (Mount Barker office) or 8550 3400 (Willunga office). Visit our pest animals page to find out more about rabbit and pest control options and other support available.

More information

Communications Coordinator

0497 318 706

ben.westmoreland@sa.gov.au