- Rabbit Control Program, November & December 2012 – Council will be undertaking a Rabbit Control Program from Thursday 15 November to Friday 7 December 2012 (weather permitting).
European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
As part of Council’s legal obligation under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998 and in response to community concern about damage caused by rabbits to property and the environment, Mosman Council is continuing to implement best practice techniques for controlling feral rabbits on Council owned and managed land. This involves a coordinated approach between major land owners in Northern Sydney who meet regularly as members of the Urban Feral Animal Action Group (UFAAG).
Mosman Council strategically implements rabbit control techniques that adhere to the Sydney North Regional Rabbit Plan 2007-2012 which links 12 local councils, the Department of Environment and Conservation, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and Taronga Zoo and was adopted by Council in September 2007 (EP/190).
On private property it is the responsibility of all occupiers of land to fully and continually suppress and destroy pests on their land under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998. This means if there are feral rabbits on your land, it is your responsibility to control them.
Rabbits are a declared pest under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1998 because they are a threat to Australian agriculture.
Rabbits also have detrimental impacts on many of Australia’s native flora and fauna; this in turn can cause a loss in biodiversity. It is therefore recognised that rabbits are a threat to biodiversity and the environment and as such competition and land degradation by rabbits is listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999.
Competition and grazing by rabbits is also listed as a key threatening process under schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
The impacts from feral rabbits in Mosman may include:
- Reducing the regeneration of native plants by grazing, ring-barking of saplings and digging causing loss of biodiversity
- Competition with native fauna for food and shelter
- Damage to lawns, gardens and playing fields by digging and grazing
- Increased erosion through grazing and digging
- Providing a key source of food for other feral animals such as foxes and feral cats.
- Damage to sites of historical significance
Rabbits have a very high reproductive potential with rabbit densities fluctuating according to seasonal conditions and disease outbreaks. Adult rabbits live as territorial monogamous pairs or in social groups of up to ten individuals.
Rabbits tend to live mainly on the surface in areas where cover is dense. As surface cover becomes more open, warrens expand in size with rabbits increasingly dependent on underground shelter.
Control and Management
Mosman Council applies integrated management for the control of rabbits using primary and follow-up control measures. The emphasis is placed on the efficient and strategic management of rabbits to reduce the damage they cause to conservation values along with identifying areas where significant damage to playing fields and foreshore areas occur.
Below is a list of control measures implemented by Council on Council managed land:
Rabbit Haemorragic Disease Virus (RHDV) formally known as Rabbit Calicivirus is a biological control method used by land mangers to assist in controlling rabbit populations that have not yet been subjected to the virus. RHDV is released on carrots laced with the virus. Before RHDV is released, blood samples are taken from local rabbit populations to determine immunity and to avoid treating pre-exposed rabbit populations.
This method involves baiting rabbits with carrots laced with Pindone. Rabbit monitoring and pre-feeding is undertaken in target areas before poisoned bait is laid. Pindone is considered low level hazard to humans and domestic animals although it is advised that children should be supervised and pets kept away from affected areas during baiting programs. Do not let children or pets touch or eat carrot baits. In the case of accidental poisoning with Pindone, contact the Poisons Information centre on 13 11 26 and seek medical attention. Pets should be taken to your nearest vet if it is suspected they have ingested poisoned bait. Vitamin K1 is the antidote to this poison.
Pindone baiting programs are advertised in the Mosman Daily and information is posted to the Council website. Notification signs are placed on all entrance and exit points to all public reserves baited under the program.
- Note: It is an offence to interfere with a baiting program including removal of signage; penalties up to $1100 apply under the Local Government Act (1993) Sect 632.
Shooting is a follow-up measure with restricted use in Mosman. It is generally not implemented due to the small size of Mosman’s reserves and the fact that it is a highly urbanised and populated area.
Fumigation is a follow-up technique. Only suitable if a warren has been positively identified and is actively in use. This technique can not be utilized if a warren is located under man made structures and as such is rarely used by Mosman Council.
Cage trapping is a follow-up control measure and is also used in areas where other control techniques are inappropriate. It involves the use of a possum cage trap to capture individual rabbits. Rabbits are then taken to a local vet to be re-homed or humanely euthanized.
Responsible ownership of pet rabbits
Rabbits have become a major problem in the Sydney Metropolitan Region with a large number of the feral rabbit populations being interbred with escaped or released domestic rabbits.
If you own a rabbit please take the following steps:
- Have your rabbit sterilised
- Have your rabbit vaccinated annually against Rabbit Haemorragic Disease Virus (RHDV)
- Ensure your rabbit is securely contained in a cage or hutch designed for pet rabbits
- Do not dump unwanted rabbits
More information, forms and brochures
- Sydney North Regional Rabbit Plan 2007-2012 (PDF 578KB)
- Pesticide Use Notification Plan (PDF 1MB)
- Rabbit Cage Trapping - Conditions, Procedures and Monitoring Sheet (PDF 35KB)
- Feral Animals brochure - Rabbits (PDF 2MB)
- Caring for your rabbit - brochure (PDF 289KB)
- Pest animals – Rabbits – Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water
- Pest animal and insect control – Livestock Health and Pest Authority