Right time to fight rabbits

By Country News

Rabbits have the largest impact of any pest in Australia, both economically and environmentally, according to Murray Local Land Services regional pest animal co-ordinator John Nolan.

He said rabbits contributed to land degradation, weed dispersal, the removal of native pastures and plantings and, of course, crop damage.

Following rain in April and May, rabbits are in a breeding cycle and Mr Nolan said winter was a good time to try and reduce pest numbers.

‘‘Rabbits are seasonal breeders and this will normally occur after we’ve had rain and things start to green up, which is what has happened,’’ he said.

‘‘Landholders are encouraged to look out for fresh digging at roadsides and co-ordinate control if they discover an active warren.

‘‘For broadscale areas we recommend the use of baited carrots or oats, and Local Land Services can provide those poisons and offer advice.

‘‘Once you have the rabbits knocked down, you need to rip the warrens. Now is a great time to do it, when the ground is a bit softer.

‘‘If you only have small pockets, or where you have livestock or other non-target species around, fumigation is the better option.

‘‘If there is moisture in the ground and warrens it is activated much better and will help you get a quick knock-down.’’

Mr Nolan said when landholders were searching for signs of rabbits, they should also be looking for signs of virus or myxomatosis.

‘‘The rain has also brought a big explosion of flies, which are carriers of the virus,’’ he said.

‘‘If landholders are finding dead rabbits before control, it should be reported to your local Local Land Services office.

‘‘The key message with rabbit control though is if you are in doubt, contact us for some advice.’’

As part of its pest management program, Murray Local Land Services has been working with the Moama Local Aboriginal Lands Council to implement rabbit and fox control in the Perricoota Forest.

The project, administered in conjunction with Forestry Corporation NSW and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, avoids using baits which can be consumed by non-target animals.

Murray Local Land Services senior land services officer Jamie Hearn said all warrens had been tracked by GPS and fumigated, and will be checked again in six months.

He said the project also includes fencing and weed control.