Long-term DPI data confirms rabbit number increase (VIC)

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has warned of a rapid increase in rabbit numbers across Victoria this summer – and landholders need to act now.

DPI Biosecurity Manager for Established Invasive Animals, John Matthews, said data indicates rabbit numbers are starting to rise from a 15 year low.

“Initial analysis of the 2011 spring program indicates increases in both population and active warrens,” said Mr Matthews.

“Recent high rainfall and strong pasture growth will also improve survival and extend the breeding season.”

DPI rabbit monitoring, at 17 sites on farmland across Victoria since 1998, provides nationally significant data as well as a reliable tool for measuring change in rabbit populations, the behaviour of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHDV) and the effects of conventional rabbit control programs.

“It appears a higher proportion of rabbits have antibodies to the biological control agent RHDV, released in 1995-96,” said Mr Matthews.

“This is evident across all sites with around half the kittens, 70 per cent of young adults and 80 per cent of older adult rabbits moving into the next breeding cycle, having antibodies to RHDV and would likely survive further exposure to the disease.

“There were no major differences in the antibody status of rabbits across a range of rainfall zones, indicating the epidemiology of RHDV was similar in semi-arid and temperate areas of Victoria.”

Moderate to high levels of antibodies were consistently found in young rabbits under 12 months of age over a four-year period, inferring that RHDV persisted in the field and recurred annually.

“On a positive note, a sustained reduction in rabbit populations is occurring where broad scale destruction of rabbit warrens has taken place,” said Mr Matthews.

“In areas where warrens were not destroyed, rabbit numbers are already greater or approaching the levels seen prior to the spread of RHDV from 1995 to 1996.

“RHDV is having little impact on reducing rabbit populations, demonstrating the importance of coordinated warren ripping programs, which deliver immediate and more predictable long-term reductions in rabbit populations.”

Mr Matthews said the information reinforced the need for land managers to take action now.

“Our data shows the best results are achieved when control programs are undertaken when rabbit numbers are low and that optimum period will be with us over the summer period,” he said.

“The most effective landscape scale warren-ripping programs have reduced and maintained populations by 97 per cent of their pre RHDV levels, using heavy earthmoving equipment to rip all warrens within a short time.

“The recipe for success is simple – accurate and timely application of the correct control techniques at a landscape scale, based on warren ripping, provides an immediate and sustainable solution for managing rabbit populations.

“Well planned and implemented ripping programs are very successful in reducing and maintaining rabbit numbers at low level for up to 12 years.”

Recent studies show that for a number of critical vegetation communities like buloke or callitris pine, rabbits need to be managed to extremely low levels of much less than one rabbit per hectare to allow for any regeneration and recruitment to occur.

Mr Matthews said DPI would continue to monitor statewide rabbit populations and continue to support community rabbit control programs on priority catchment assets by enforcing action on rabbit control.

All land owners are legally required to control rabbits on their property under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

News Category

Active forum topics

Topic Replies Last post Forum
3226 Multi-species Pasture Cropping
byTallanalla on Thu, 08/03/2017 - 19:20
2
by notill_paul
Tue, 10/19/2021 - 12:17
Farming Help
7230 How do you fix heavy wooden fences
byanasttin on Mon, 10/11/2021 - 17:23
1
by admin
Tue, 10/12/2021 - 17:00
Fencing
7224 Newbie Alpaca farmer question
byAlpacaPacino on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 16:55
1
by admin
Sat, 07/03/2021 - 12:13
Alpacas
7213 "Chicken Tractors"
byPadwah on Mon, 05/10/2021 - 11:11
1
by admin
Mon, 05/10/2021 - 11:41
Poultry
7205 Vaccinating a small number of lambs
byhilltophouse on Tue, 04/13/2021 - 14:26
1
by admin
Sun, 04/18/2021 - 21:28
Sheep
7204 Ducks keep dying
bySteves Ducks on Sun, 04/11/2021 - 21:42
1
by admin
Wed, 04/14/2021 - 16:16
Poultry
7170 Orphan Lambs and Foxes
byhlcrouch on Thu, 10/01/2020 - 20:10
4
by GreenAcresFarm
Tue, 04/06/2021 - 19:28
Sheep
7189 On farm home butchering
byDreamChasers on Tue, 03/09/2021 - 21:48
2
by Casey
Sun, 04/04/2021 - 16:53
General Forum
7187 Tractor information
byzoob on Mon, 03/01/2021 - 21:28
2
by Casey
Sun, 04/04/2021 - 16:42
General Forum
6613 Hello everyone
byGordon on Tue, 09/08/2020 - 14:32
3
by Casey
Sun, 04/04/2021 - 16:34
Fencing
7184 Looking at purchasing in Scenic Rim area.
byFordGT18 on Sun, 01/31/2021 - 14:21
1
by admin
Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:18
General Forum
7183 Starting a wagyu farm
byaussie3105 on Sun, 01/24/2021 - 20:50
1
by admin
Thu, 01/28/2021 - 11:26
Farm planning
6282 Farm security
byweekenders on Mon, 06/22/2020 - 12:51
9
by OWilson87
Tue, 01/19/2021 - 21:00
7182 ivermectin and yabbies
byOzSledge on Sun, 01/17/2021 - 14:02
2
by OWilson87
Tue, 01/19/2021 - 20:58
932 Tractors
bygaz on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 13:53
15
by admin
Sun, 01/10/2021 - 14:45
General Forum
6966 Agistment
bymarieoc on Sun, 09/27/2020 - 19:52
3
by admin
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 17:53
Livestock
6699 Should I till, use harrows or just let it be?
byTheOldChurchEstate on Thu, 09/10/2020 - 18:40
1
by admin
Thu, 09/17/2020 - 17:03
Farming Help
6573 Do I need to fence off my dam with cows?
bymawan on Fri, 09/04/2020 - 13:57
1
by admin
Wed, 09/09/2020 - 10:12
Farming Help
6568 Kiwi wanting to sheep farm in Australia
byNikita on Thu, 09/03/2020 - 09:40
1
by admin
Mon, 09/07/2020 - 11:23
Sheep
6565 New sheep about to lamb, not vaccinated or wormed. What do I do please?
bySarah B on Mon, 08/31/2020 - 14:57
2
by Sarah B
Wed, 09/02/2020 - 16:34
Sheep

Our Sponsors

Our Partners

  •  Rivendell finance