Bass Coast,

Rabbit Control Underway

Bass Coast Shire Council is continuing to work on an extensive rabbit control program on Council-managed Foreshore Reserves.

Council’s Planning and Environment Director, Hannah Duncan-Jones, said the next stage of baiting was about to commence and that Council officers had been engaged in night spotlighting activities to monitor rabbit numbers.

“The rabbit population in some areas has grown considerably in the last couple of years,” Ms Duncan-Jones said.

“We are concerned about impacts on indigenous vegetation in these Conservation Reserves.

“We’ve also received many requests for a baiting program because the rabbits are damaging nearby areas, such as golf courses, nature strips and vegetable gardens.”

Ms Duncan-Jones said a licenced contractor would be baiting the foreshore sites in the coming weeks.

“This includes the foreshore areas at Ventnor, Red Rocks, Rhyll, Newhaven, Cape Woolamai and Kilcunda,” Ms Duncan-Jones said.

“We will display appropriate signage in the areas where baiting occurs. Dog owners should follow the normal regulations and keep their dogs under control and on a lead when walking them in these areas during the baiting period.”

It is the responsibility of private land owners to manage pest animals on their own land; however, Bass Coast Landcare Network offers support to landowners by providing bait and assistance in running a baiting program.

Council has undertaken an annual rabbit control program for the past eight years. Rabbit control measures undertaken in Council Foreshores are supported by similar projects implemented by the Phillip Island Nature Parks and VicRoads.

“With the increase in rabbit numbers on Phillip Island, partly due to low fox numbers, an Island-wide rabbit strategy is being proposed for development in 2014/15,” Ms Duncan-Jones said.

“Bass Coast Landcare Network, Phillip Island Nature Parks and Bass Coast Shire Council have formed a working group to developthis strategy.”

With a good solid strategy, the working group will be able to attract enough funding to make a concerted effort to greatly reduce the rabbit population across the island and the effects they have on the environment.

In the meantime, Bass Coast Landcare Network and Phillip Island Nature Parks are also very active in rabbit control in numerous locations.  With some funding from the state government, they have recently had great success with baiting roadsides between Cape Woolamai and Surf Beach.

 “All of these organisations and supporting community organisations, landholders and volunteers are committed to reducing rabbit numbers and improving local conservation, recreational and agricultural assets,” Ms Duncan-Jones said.