Integrated Rabbit Abatement Strategies
Rabbit eradication depends on the integration of a set of strategies. We think of it as an on-going priority that must be managed in an integrated way.
Each of these steps is described briefly below. We offer the best advice we have in the hope that it will help you but we cannot take responsibility for your project. We just want to offer our help and wish you well. There is authoritative advice on the Victorian Rabbit Action network website (https://rabbitaction.com/).
In this phase, you need to assess the nature and extent of your problem. Where are your rabbits?
Before you can start work on the problem, you need to know exactly what problem you have to deal with. Once this is clear, you may have to undertake a few different activities to solve it, and you will need to organise these for the best effect.
- Are the rabbits living somewhere off your property and coming in through your fences or gates?
- You will need to make sure your fences are rabbit safe: that means rabbit fencing all around as well as on and under any gates. There is little point in trying to eradicate the rabbits until you have made sure more will not come from elsewhere. Rabbit fences are not necessarily hard to construct or expensive (about $4 per metre for the netting). Learn more about rabbit fencing.
- Are the rabbits living in warrens on open land on your property?
- You will need to destroy the warrens but you may want to do this before or after attacking the rabbits themselves. Otherwise more rabbits will find the warrens and move in. Learn more about destroying warrens.
- Are the rabbits making homes in or under woodpiles? rubbish areas?
- Habitats that support rabbits will be re-inhabited so they should be removed or fenced off (with rabbit netting). Temporary fencing with nets and the introduction of ferrets can help in difficult areas.
- Are the rabbits living in long grass and plant areas?
- You will need to clear such areas or fence them with rabbit netting and bring in the ferrets if you cannot use bait safely (because of pets etc).
You might find it useful to get some irrigation marker flags to mark the rabbit holes (in fances as well as entrances to warrens etc).
A good starting point is to have a map that shows what needs to be done. It is doubly helpful if your map can be added to a large-scale jigsaw of maps so we can cover the whole Bellarine, in time. To give you what you need for planning, and to help us, you can follow the instructions below.
We are supporting the use of FeralScan strategies (see http://feralscan.org.au/). Feralscan has a section for recording the observations, activities, etc. to do with rabbits. This is your private information and only you can see it. There is a Bellarine Landcare Group map that can be used to bring together all that individuals have mapped. This information will only be shared among those who are members of the BLG group. BLG recommends becoming a registered member at http://feralscan.org.au/rabbitscan/default.aspx and recording your observations. These can then be combined with the sightings of others via the BLG group maps. Doing this will significantly help you plan your rabbit eradication activities but, particularly, help the BLG plan Bellarine-wide startegies.
If you want more detailed mapping of your target area, the following instructions will help you make a detailed map of your location.
To see a map of your property, enter the address of your property (2/3 of the way down the menu on the left hand side). Click on 'search'..
Click on 'Markup tools' on the menu that runs across the top of your map.
Click on the icon of a magnifying glass with a question-mark to change the scale - make it 1:1000 for printing but you can have any scale when working on it on the screen.
Click on 'markup tools' to mark up the map of your property online - fences, potential rabbit habitat and infestations are really all you need. Alternatively, you may choose to print your map and work on it using pens etc. but please make sure scale is 1:1000
For uniformity, please mark your map as follows:
- normal fences using a blue pen,
- rabbit-proof fences using a red pen (check they are actually working as rabbit-proof and fix them if they are not), and then
- habitats and warrens etc - putting an 'H' next to habitats and 'W' next to warrens.
If necessary, show where rabbits are getting through fences using an 'x' at the spot.
Once you have done this work, you can help the BLG by emailing, posting or delivering a copy at scale 1:1000 to the BLG office. This way, we can add your detailed map to our jigsaw. If your neighbours also follow the instructions, you will have a good idea of the nature of the local problem which proves very important in rabbbit eradication!
Using the mapping service, you can also make a map of the properties that adjoin yours. If your neighbours are willing to work on a rabbit eradication project with you, great! If not, perhaps you can let the BLG know if there are rabbits on the property and you would like your neighbours to help but they are not interested.
It may be necessary for several things to be done - for example, fixing fences, adding some rabbit-proofing wire, removal of attractive habitat, ordering of baits or poisons, or arranging dates and actions with contractors. It is important that these actions are undertaken in a logical order. If warrens are emptied by one family group of rabbits, another will move in if they are not stopped by appropriate fencing, for instance.
While it is up to individual landholders when they do what, co-ordination of baiting, for example, can lead to discounted bulk buying of fresh carrots, or of baited oats that can be stored and used just within the year. Baiting must not be undertaken unless dead rabbits can be removed immediately. In advance of baiting, which should be done over several days, rabbits need to be fed oats or carrots to get them used to eating them (only a few times is sufficient).
Working as a neighbourhood is the best way to effectively eradicate rabbits. While preparing for action on a property, it is useful to contact neighbours to see if they too will take action. The BLG is willing to help in this exercise. If you are shy about contacting your neighbours, the BLG can contact them to see if they will work in with the program. When groups of landholders want to work but need help, the BLG can help organise a Blitz! which attracts volunteers to help. See details ablout organising a Blitz or contact the BLG facilitator.
Preparation for baiting and fumigating should be undertaken carefully. When baiting rabbits, there is a responsibility to ensure that other animals etc do not also suffer. By feeding unbaited oats or carrots in advance of the baiting, appropriate quantities of oats or carrots can be calculated. In the case of fumigation, which is a dangerous activity and should only be undertaken by those with the appropriate qualifications, all the entrances to a warren need to be located and blocked so there is no escaping of the gas. It cannot be stressed enough that fumigation is a dangerous process and has led to death among farmers on the peninsula in the past.
Pindone in carrots or oats? Carrots are fresh vegetables, obviously, so they must be used within a few days of being baited. This is not the case with baited oats. Baitied carrots usually have to be ordered well in advance. Baited oats are available from rural suppliers. The cost may be an important factor when deciding which to use.
There is a useful document available from the government about using Pindone:
Corangamite Landcare has an explanatory document about the risks associated with the use of Pindone (http://corangamite.landcarevic.net.au/barrabool-hills/animal-and-plant-pests/pindone-facts/view)
If you are laying bait, please attend to the courtesy of informing your neighbours and putting up notices that are usually available with the baited materials. Remember, also, to arrange for the collection and removal of dead rabbits.
If fumigation is being undertaken, the dead rabbits will be in the burrows.
Once the rabbits have been killed, the burrows should be ripped or otherwise. destroyed. This is an important part of the process.
Killing the rabbits is never all that is necessary. Habitats and burrows should all be removed, fences should all be rabbit-proofed, and perhaps maps of properties that have been worked on could be lodged with the BLG?