A recent increase in rabbit numbers in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula has created a strong need for effective control methods.
With rabbit breeding season now underway, landholders are looking for the best way to control this pest, which costs agricultural production in Australian $200 million each year. The deep burrows dug by rabbits allow them to survive most environmental conditions and they can adapt to a variety of food sources.
Landholders are starting to see damage to crops and pastures, while those in urban areas are observing damage to lawns, garden beds and vegetables.
Rabbits are also a significant threat to our biodiversity, affecting the survival of more than 300 nationally threatened species of plants and animals.
Strength in numbers
While difficult to control, the best approach to tackling this pervasive pest is to collaborate with neighbours. This will cover a larger area more effectively, and will cost individual landholders much less than if they were to do it on their own.
Many landholders believe rabbit control is costly, but by combining forces with nearby properties, cost per property can be less than $100.
There are a number of methods for rabbit control, including removal of hiding places, destroying warrens and burrows, baiting, fumigation, trapping, and exclusion fencing. An ongoing combination of these methods will be the most effective.
Plan and prepare your control program in advance so you can implement the control methods at the right time and in the best sequence. Look for signs where rabbits have been active, such as burrows, fresh scratches in the soil, scattered or piled dung and damage to vegetation. They also take refuge above ground, in areas such as plant beds or wood heaps.
For landholders in the Cudlee Creek fire scar, a 50% discount is being offered on pindone carrots through the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board. This project is supported by the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s Emergency Wildlife and Habitat Recovery program, and the landscape levy.
The board’s landscape officers can help you plan a rabbit control program for your property and with your neighbours. This can help determine which combination of control methods will be most effective.
The board is planning to make a release of the K5 virus in mid October and would be interested to hear from any landholders who would like to participate, particularly as part of a group of neighbours controlling rabbits together. This type of group effort can significantly reduce the cost for landholders.
For more information, please contact the board’s Mt Barker office (8391 7500 ) or Willunga office (8550 3400 ) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pestsmart (pestsmart.org.au) is also a useful resource for videos and technical information on controlling rabbits.