Weather leads to increase in feral rabbits

European Rabbit photo by JJ Harrison CC-BY-SA

European Rabbit or Common Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Photo by JJ Harrison CC-BY-SA.

Consecutive warm and wet seasons have led to an increase in the feral rabbit population. This is particularly evident in Balmoral and the surrounding areas.

Due to the built up urban environment in the Mosman LGA, rabbit control methods and measures are limited. Primary methods of rabbit control used in Mosman are limited to Pindone baiting and the release of Rabbit Haemorragic Disease Virus (RHDV).

Additionally, Mosman’s rabbit control program is undertaken in coordination with surrounding public land managers, such as National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Defence and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Currently scheduled rabbit control programs involving Pindone baiting and the release of RHDV, have temporarily ceased until more suitable conditions are present.

Pindone Baiting

Pindone baiting is dependant on weather conditions. Pindone bait will not be laid in wet conditions as the bait becomes ineffective. Also the consistent wet weather has resulted in an increase of green feed readily available for feral rabbits and therefore uptake will be low.

Pindone baiting is strategically undertaken in areas identified as high priority sites affected by feral rabbits. The sites on Mosman Council Land currently considered as high priority include:

  • Balmoral
  • Lawry Plunkett Reserve
  • Sirius Cove
  • Little Ashton Park

RHDV

Release of Rabbit Haemorragic Disease Virus (RHDV) has been deferred until February 2013. The RHDV virus is released each February as this time of year is the most suitable for effective transportation of the virus throughout the local population. Therefore due to the unsuitable February weather conditions the virus will not survive on bait laid in wet weather.

Evidence from recent blood samples taken from rabbits in the Sydney North Region indicates presence of the virus. There is also evidence of some rabbits becoming immune to the virus.

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