Breeding like rabbits
Ideal seasonal conditions experienced across the South East this year, has seen a significant visual increase in rabbit numbers and land managers are strongly encouraged to start planning their control programs early, to reduce potential impacts on their individual farming systems.
Rabbits compete with native animals and domestic livestock for food and shelter, increasing grazing pressure and lowering the land’s carrying capacity with the overall loss caused by rabbits to agriculture and horticulture recently estimated to be approximately $206 million per year.
With the recent release of the K5 strain of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease virus (RHDV) and the ongoing appearance of the RHDV2 strain, it is important to emphasise that biological control is only one of the important tools available for land managers to manage rabbits.
Integrated control programs that complement biocontrol are the best way to keep rabbit numbers very low, or even better, eradicate them!
Late summer and autumn is the ideal time to control rabbits as their numbers are naturally lower. Baiting with 1080 poison is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to reduce rabbit populations.
This can be followed up by a warren destruction program by mechanical ripping. This is a highly effective way of removing rabbits and it is important that any reopened holes are fumigated to maximise the success of the program. More information can be found at the Pestsmart website.
Natural Resources South East takes a keen interest in tracking and helping to record the movement of both the K5 and RHDV2 virus through spring and welcomes information from landholders. A simple way of doing this, is to collect a tissue or bone sample from a dead rabbit, freeze it and contact your local Natural Resources Management Officer. The officer will arrange collection and free testing for the presence of RHDV.
For more information contact your local NRMO or call the Natural Resources Centre in Mount Gambier on 87351177 or Keith 8755 1620.