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Limestone Coast Landscape Board release new biocontrol’s targeting feral rabbit population

News release
21 November 2022

The Limestone Coast Landscape Board will be releasing biological controls to help reduce rabbit numbers in isolated pockets across the region and support rabbit control efforts of landholders.

The release of the rabbit biocontrol is a timely reminder for landholders to start planning summer rabbit control programs as biological control needs to be complemented with other methods to restrict rapid recovery of rabbit populations.

Maintaining pressure on rabbit populations each year improves agricultural productivity, reduces food resources for foxes and feral cats and helps to protect remnant native vegetation and wildlife habitat.

Although summer is usually the ideal time to start a control program, rabbits can breed year-round in the lower Limestone Coast region due to readily available food sources.

“The best approach is a coordinated rabbit control program with neighbours firstly spotlighting to find problem areas then applying targeted poison baiting and follow up warren destruction. Reliance on biological controls alone will not bring populations down to long term sustainable levels, but will support landholder efforts to remove feral rabbit populations on their property,” said Limestone Coast Landscape Board Acting Team Leader of Northern Operations, Josh Rosser. “A variety of rabbit control methods are available for landholders and can include trail baiting with 1080 oat bait, Pindone poison oat or carrot bait, fumigation, biological control and warren destruction.“

“Our Landscape Officers are located across the Limestone Coast and support landholders with advice on animal control, fox and rabbit bait and biocontrol supply, equipment hire along with support to organise a cooperative neighbourhood pest control program,” said Mr Rosser. The biological control agent being used is RHDV K5, a variant of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) which causes fatal haemorrhagic disease in European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

Rabbit biological control programs have existed in Australia since the early 1950’s with the release of the Myxoma virus. This latest variant is considered to have greater benefits for cool-wet regions like the Limestone Coast and, is safe for people, wildlife, livestock and pets (except domestic rabbits).

“Domestic (pet) rabbits can be infected by RHDV strains, as they are descendants of wild rabbits and we advise owners of pet rabbits to vaccinate
their animals against the virus.”

Landholders that find suspected diseased rabbits are requested to report the sighting to RabbitScan. This information gives greater insight in to the
effectiveness of biological control strains, rabbit population changes and guides rabbit control efforts for the Limestone Coast.

Under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, feral rabbits are declared for control and it is the responsibility of landholders to control rabbit populations
on their land.

To be put in touch with your local Landscape Officer call the nearest Limestone Coast Landscape Board office on 8429 7550.

Limestone Coast Landscape Board release new biocontrol’s targeting feral rabbit population
Team Leader- Northern Landscape Operations Josh Rosser with rabbit oat baits