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New program as rangers succeed against rabbits

Volunteer rabbit warren mapper Geoffrey Nelson of Ainslie investigates a rabbit warren at Mt Majura in January 2012.

Volunteer rabbit warren mapper Geoffrey Nelson of Ainslie investigates a rabbit warren at Mt Majura in January 2012. Photo: Rohan Thomson

A Canberra ranger has said a combination of poisoned carrots and fumigation had succeeded in cutting rabbit numbers in two territory locations, after the ACT government announced a new program to target increasing numbers across Acton Peninsula.

Canberra Nature Parks south district ranger Nina Bruns said warren numbers had fallen by more than two-thirds at Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura in the past two years.

''Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura was one of the really problem areas we had, and about two years ago our ParkCare volunteers mapped over 900 warrens,'' she said.

An urban rabbit (file photo).

An urban rabbit (file photo). Photo: Ken Irwin

''This year we have found only 250.''

Ms Bruns said different districts used different methods, with seasonal factors also relevant.

''We usually do baiting during the summer months because rabbits are more likely to eat a juicy carrot when it's dry, and in winter we use fumigation of the warrens when the rabbits are more underground and after the breeding season,'' she said.

From now until early winter, rabbit control work including baiting using poisoned carrots, oats and cages will be conducted in parks and reserves in Canberra's north and south.

Ms Bruns said numbers of killed or current rabbits were not known, as sick rabbits would go into their warrens before dying and decomposing.

She said the carrot bait was dried blue so it was not attractive to birds, but pets including dogs should be kept away.

''It would get sick but it would be fine with an injection … (we) haven't had pet incidents that I'm aware of,'' she said.

ACT Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias said rabbits created erosion and if left uncontrolled invaded the surrounding area, including backyards.

''Rabbits are a serious environmental pest, eating down the ground layer vegetation so it no longer provides food and shelter for various other species such as reptiles and ground-feeding birds.''

He said to date the government's rabbit control program had received strong support from the local ParkCare groups.

''Volunteers from numerous ParkCare groups have spent over 1000 hours mapping warrens across numerous reserves using handheld GPS devices,'' he said.

''This allowed government staff and contractors to move through the reserves using nationally recognised techniques to control the rabbit population.''

Following many years of targeted controls, the current work is part of a $150,000 ACT government program to cut populations in nature reserves in 2012-13.

Signs will be put in place at the entries to areas where rabbit control is being undertaken and on baiting cages to alert people.

Mr Iglesias said users of these areas are requested not to touch or interfere with poisoned carrots, oats or caged bait stations.

He said control work does not pose a risk to public safety but domestic animals should be kept away from the control areas.

Southside locations

  • Callum Brae
  • Cooleman Ridge
  • Mt Mugga Mugga
  • Isaacs Ridge,
  • Jerrabomberra Grasslands
  • Red Hill
  • Tuggeranong Hill
  • Mt Taylor
  • Urambi Hills

Northside locations

  • Mount Ainslie,
  • Mount Majura,
  • Mount Painter,
  • The Pinnacle
  • Mulligans Flat 

8 comments

  • Not before time. O'Connor Ridge needs doing as well.

    Commenter
    Badger
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    April 05, 2013, 12:24PM
    • The argument as to whether it is better to live South or the lake or North of the lake is now over. South of the lake is better as the rabbits know best and they are over-running the South (9 areas to be baited south verses a measly 5 areas north)

      JCH of Torrens (SOUTH side of the lake!)

      Commenter
      Rabbits have spoken!
      Date and time
      April 05, 2013, 12:49PM
      • That's what we do to rabbits. If it was an excess of kangaroos, we would need to wine them, dine them, conduct a visioning session and feedback seminars. Then humanely relocate them to Gold-Coast apartments.

        Commenter
        sobored
        Location
        space
        Date and time
        April 05, 2013, 12:55PM
        • But I thought that calici virus was going to save us all from the furry menance!

          seriously folks, this management approach has done little to stem the effects of Peter Rabbit; I have marked the progress of the poisoning and funnily enough, within 12 to 18 months, population figures have returned.

          The unifying reason is habitat. A casual walk will identify soil types and plant life that encourages rabbit population growth. What it also shows is a marked absence of regular and ongoing rabbit managment. The great irony being the enourmous population at CSIRO Black Mountain...

          Commenter
          Outraged of Palmerston
          Date and time
          April 05, 2013, 2:59PM
          • If this was a kangaroo cull article you'd have ever every animal libber nut and their vegetarian dog on here complaining about it. Just goes to show some animals are more equal than others.

            Commenter
            Nigel
            Date and time
            April 05, 2013, 3:32PM
            • I have relatives at both ANU and UC.... apparently both have healthy populations of the little buggers, maybe a cull during semester break is due?

              Commenter
              John121
              Date and time
              April 05, 2013, 4:46PM
              • Barrie O'Farrell's friends would shoot them, for free.

                Commenter
                enno
                Location
                sydney
                Date and time
                April 05, 2013, 5:19PM
                • I have never seen as many rabbits as I have seen near the lake one night in winter. Its a wonder they haven't undermined the road. If you pointed your shotgun without even aiming I'd reckon you could have got about twenty with one shot!

                  Commenter
                  Noogie
                  Location
                  Bundy
                  Date and time
                  April 05, 2013, 5:47PM
                  Comments are now closed
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