Bass Coast,
05
March
2013
|
05:55
Australia/Melbourne

Rabbit Control Program

The Easter bunny might be the focus for retail at the moment; however it’s the presence of a different sort of rabbit that is driving a joint project between Bass Coast Shire Council, Landcare and Phillip Island Nature Parks.

There has been a big increase in the rabbit population across south east Australia over the past two years.  In some places in Victoria, rabbit numbers have more than tripled in the past six months.

Council’s Planning and Environment Director, Hannah Duncan-Jones, said the figures are alarming and reminiscent of those reported in the lead up to the rabbit plague in the 1980s.

“We are getting a lot of calls from residents and our staff are also reporting a significant increase in rabbit numbers, particularly on Phillip Island,” confirmed Ms Duncan-Jones.

“We are working with Landcare and the Nature Parks to develop, and implement strategies to manage the rabbit population in Bass Coast.  Monitoring the effectiveness of these strategies will be important to understand the most effective solutions. We do this every year and our collaboration is one of the most active and successful alliances working on rabbit control in Victoria.

“It includes maintaining three rabbit proof fences on Phillip Island, rabbit baiting programs on public land and providing Rabbait to local landowners for use on their own properties. We are also removing gorse and boxthorn, which rabbits love to live in and encouraging residents to make their houses rabbit proof.”

Ms Duncan-Jones said Council and Phillip Island Nature Parks were beginning baiting programs on foreshore reserves and the land they manage; however the problem stretched beyond these areas.

“Legally, our staff cannot go onto private property to bait rabbits.  If you do have a problem in your area, we need your help,” explained Ms Duncan-Jones.

“Even with private houses, it has to be a combined approach.  Getting rid of rabbits in your yard will be impossible if the properties around you still house a rabbit colony! Get together with your neighbours and then contact Bass Coast Landcare Network’s Pest Plant and Animal Coordinator, Matt Stephenson.  Matt will work with you, so you can bait in and around as many properties as possible.”

Phillip Island Nature Parks is currently developing a long term strategy for pest animal management, which includes working closely together with all the relevant organisations to control rabbit numbers.

If you need information on controlling rabbits in your area, please email Matt Stephenson on m.stephenson@basscoast.vic.gov.au.
For general information on environmental management, please call on Environment team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or environment@basscoast.vic.gov.au.