Lake Hayes Neighbourhood Rabbit Management Programme

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We have heard concerns about the number of rabbits in your neighbourhood. While responsibility for managing rabbits on private property sits with the landowner, we are investigating ways to support community efforts by connecting landowners (who have identified a problem) with pest controllers (who can assist with a solution).

As a landowner or occupier with obligations under our Regional Pest Management Plan to control the rabbits on your property, we would greatly appreciate your input. The information we gather will be used to inform the most effective rabbit approach for you and your neighbours. Working with your neighbours will help to better reduce rabbit populations and decrease their impact on the environment.

As a landowner or occupier in Lake Hayes and to inform our facilitation work, we would like your assistance to collate some information via the short survey below to better understand what you know and how you feel about:

  1. The rabbit problem in the neighbourhood and how this affects you
  2. Rabbit control options currently used, or that are available to you and your neighbours

Unfortunately, we can’t control all of the factors that influence the spread of rabbits (such as how quickly they breed), but we are here to help you identify the factors that you can control through collective community action.

The information you provide us today will not be used for compliance purposes. Assessment of compliance is achieved through property inspections.

We have heard concerns about the number of rabbits in your neighbourhood. While responsibility for managing rabbits on private property sits with the landowner, we are investigating ways to support community efforts by connecting landowners (who have identified a problem) with pest controllers (who can assist with a solution).

As a landowner or occupier with obligations under our Regional Pest Management Plan to control the rabbits on your property, we would greatly appreciate your input. The information we gather will be used to inform the most effective rabbit approach for you and your neighbours. Working with your neighbours will help to better reduce rabbit populations and decrease their impact on the environment.

As a landowner or occupier in Lake Hayes and to inform our facilitation work, we would like your assistance to collate some information via the short survey below to better understand what you know and how you feel about:

  1. The rabbit problem in the neighbourhood and how this affects you
  2. Rabbit control options currently used, or that are available to you and your neighbours

Unfortunately, we can’t control all of the factors that influence the spread of rabbits (such as how quickly they breed), but we are here to help you identify the factors that you can control through collective community action.

The information you provide us today will not be used for compliance purposes. Assessment of compliance is achieved through property inspections.

  • Working with contractors for effective rabbit control

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    You can employ an individual or a business to undertake or support you with rabbit control on your property. Having a reliable contractor with the right skills and equipment is important for effective control and having some knowledge yourself of how to manage rabbits and what to expect from a good management plan will give you better results.


    How do I find a reliable contractor?

    Ask neighbours or other nearby landowners for their suggestions. You can also contact your local biodiversity or farming group, or one of our Biosecurity Officers.


    What qualifications and licenses should contractors have?

    A person or business that is paid to deliver rabbit control works involving certain toxins needs to have a Controlled Substances License (CSL).


    What questions should I ask the contractor before employing them?

    A good contractor should be able discuss options for permanently reducing rabbit numbers (i.e. long term control) rather than just focussing on immediate gains (i.e. short term control). A good contractor will also be able to answer the following:

    • What is their experience? Have they undertaken programmes in the local area before?
    • Are they authorised to use chemicals e.g. do they hold a CSL?
    • Do they have protective clothing and equipment?
    • Can they direct you to previous clients who will vouch for their work?
    • It is recommended if hiring a contractor, you encourage them to conduct a site inspection to obtain an accurate quote.


    What information will the contractor need from me?

    Your contractor may ask:

    • What your short and long term goals are
    • Where and what is the damage
    • Location of rabbit feeding areas
    • Location of burrows
    • Location of any woody or spiny weeds
    • Whether the neighbours have feral rabbits
    • Rabbit numbers: small or large population
    • What treatment you would like to use on your property
    • Whether there are any methods that you are opposed to
    • Where you want them to work on your property
    • An indication of budget available
    • Location and type of wildlife on your property – such as native birds, stock or pets

    If you’re unable to provide this information, recommend the contractor inspects the site. If they don’t ask at least some of these questions, it is worth seeking additional quotes.


    How do I know if the contractor is using best practice rabbit management?

    At a minimum, the contractor should be able to outline:

    • A method for primary treatment to provide an initial knockdown of rabbits (e.g. baiting)
    • They should also be able to inform you about:
      • Methods for follow-up secondary treatment to address any rabbits left behind after the primary treatment
      • Likely success of any treatment methods discussed
      • Realistic expectations in the absence of good fencing (if applicable)

    The contractor may also outline how to assess changes in active burrows, rabbit abundance, plant germination and recovery, spotlight counts, and before-and-after photos.


    Primary and secondary control options

    Depending on the severity of the rabbit problem on your property, the contractor may suggest a primary treatment to provide an initial knockdown of rabbits. This is usually done using baiting. A good contractor will advise the best time of year to do this and discuss any other factors that may impact the result.

    Baiting can reduce rabbit numbers significantly but will never eradicate the population completely. If the remaining rabbits are not addressed then rabbit numbers will bounce back eventually.

    Following up primary control with ongoing secondary control methods, and/or installing and maintaining a good rabbit proof fence (including a gate) can help you to address the last remaining rabbits and keep rabbit numbers low so that no further primary treatments are required in the future.

    Secondary control methods include:

    • Shooting
    • Ferreting
    • Long netting
    • Dogging
    • Fumigation
    • Hand digging or blocking up burrows
    • Habitat modification

    Installing and maintaining a good fence will help to extend the effectiveness of any primary or secondary control options adopted.

    Ongoing monitoring will help you to assess the effectiveness of any treatments used and will also help to detect and address any future rise in rabbit numbers before they become a problem again.


    How do I know the contractor’s rabbit control work is effective?

    After your contractor has completed work on your property you should inspect the area. You can assess each method in a best practice management program using the following indicators:

    Method Indicators of success
    Baiting

    Rabbit numbers drop significantly

    Grazing stops

    Less diggings / scratching

    Less fresh dung

    Burrow entrances appear unused

    Warren modification

    Rabbit numbers drop immediately

    Burrows remain closed and inactive

    No breeding events

    (even in spring-wet summer)

    No young rabbits

    No damage on vegetation

    Fumigation

    Numbers drop immediately

    Burrows remain closed and inactive

    No fresh scratching or dung


    You should also check that they have completed the work (e.g. treated all areas that you agreed to), cleaned up the site, and removed uneaten bait poison or carcasses (to lessen the risk to non-target species as per the product label).


    How do I detect if rabbits are re-establishing on my property after treatment?

    You will see evidence of active rabbit behaviour such as fresh new scratchings (freshly turned soil), fresh droppings (black and shiny), reopened or new burrows created, vegetation attacked, and crops grazed. In time, more burrows will be reopened or dug.


    Special thanks to the Victorian Rabbit Action Network and author Tim Bloomfield for the use of their material.

Page last updated: 13 July 2021, 14:58