Wyndham City has responsibility under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 to control rabbits on council reserves to reduce the degradation rabbits have on the environment.
Wyndham City undertakes an annual Rabbit Control Program during late summer to early autumn (February to April), because research shows this is the optimal time to control the European Wild Rabbit population (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
Wyndham City ensures that the strategies used in the Rabbit Control Program follow best practice, to effectively and humanely control rabbit populations. Each strategy is site specific, employing at least one or a combination of the following techniques:
Warren control is a critical component in effectively controlling rabbit populations. By destroying the rabbit warren, you significantly impact its ability to breed and re-populate an area.
The most effective techniques used to control rabbit warrens are:
Warren ripping is a process using machinery to rip into the ground, effectively destroying the warren system. A spotter is used to help guide the machine operator so that the entire extent of the warren system is treated. Once ripped, the site is then re-compacted and re-vegetated.
Implosion is the technique where a fully qualified and registered operator of explosives is employed to safely collapse a warren system. The process involves using an explosive charge to cause sufficient sub-surface disturbance to collapse the warren system whilst creating minimal disturbance on the surface. This technique is only used when ripping is not a possible option.
Fumigation is a technique using a tablet of Aluminium phosphide (most commonly used in fumigation) that releases a poisonous phosphine gas when activated by moisture. This technique requires all burrow entrances to be sealed so that there is nowhere for any rabbits or the gas to escape.
Baits of oats or chopped carrot, treated with the anticoagulant poison ‘Pindone’ will be laid by licensed contractors in accordance with the Pindone manufacturer’s directions. Poison baiting will occur on three occasions during the control period, with three to five days between each dose. The amount of bait laid will be determined by rabbit density. Any carcasses and unconsumed baits will be collected by the contractors and disposed of off-site.
Wyndham City sends notification to landowners that immediately adjoin the targeted areas recommending that pets are not taken to these reserves and public open spaces during this period. The notification suggests that people who live or work within these areas should be aware that unrestrained pets (and livestock) may be at risk if they ingest the poisoned baits or rabbit carcasses. Residents are also notified that the antidote to Pindone, Vitamin K1, is available from local vets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Wyndham City undertake rabbit control?
Wyndham City has a legal obligation under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 to control declared pest animals. We also undertake rabbit baiting programs in Council reserves to reduce the degradation that rabbits cause to the environment. As a land owner/manager, Wyndham City also has a legal obligation to control declared pest animals. Wyndham City has been undertaking rabbit control (including baiting) annually since 2000.
Bio-controls such as myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD, also commonly known as rabbit calicivirus) continue to assist in the control of rabbit populations. However neither of diseases has provided a total solution, so conventional methods of rabbit control are still necessary to ensure that rabbit impacts are minimised
What rabbit control techniques does Wyndham City use?
Wyndham City uses an integrated rabbit control program. Relying on one technique alone is often not effective. The techniques Wyndham City uses are:
- Poison baits
- Harbour (pest plant) destruction
- Burrow destruction and/or fumigation
How is rabbit baiting done and with what poison?
Wyndham City uses a State Government licensed contractor that works in accordance within the manufacturer’s directions of the poison used. The poison is Pindone. The contractor uses Pindone baited diced carrots (or sometimes oats) dyed blue for the rabbit baiting program. The amount of bait laid is only enough for the quantity of rabbits in the targeted area and this is determined by pre-commencement site assessments. Unconsumed baits are collected by the contractors and disposed of off-site.
When does Wyndham City undertake rabbit baiting programs?
Wyndham City usually undertakes its rabbit control programs in late summer/early autumn which is the optimal time to control rabbits. Wyndham City’s programs are sometimes undertaken throughout the year. Community notification and signage is part of Wyndham City’s baiting program.
Are native animals at risk?
Since Wyndham City first started its rabbit control programs in 2000, there has not been any reported deaths of any other animals, other than rabbits. Baiting programs include carcass collection and removal, although most poisoned rabbits return to their underground burrows.
Are my pets at risk?
It is highly unlikely that your pet dog or cat would be poisoned by Pindone treated baits or affected rabbit carcasses on Wyndham City Council land. This is because Pindone is a slow acting poison that requires multiple doses to affect an animal. These effects are also reversible as there is an antidote, Vitamin K1. Local vets are informed when baiting will occur so that they maintain supplies of the antidote in the unlikely event that off-target poisoning occurs.
Pindone is used to control rabbits in open areas as the alternative rabbit poison, 1080, is a greater risk to humans and domestic animals as there is no antidote for 1080. Pindone also has a relatively short half-life in the body, which means it should clear quickly from any non-target animal which accidentally ingests a small dose.
To reduce the likelihood of pets or wildlife ingesting the poison, all rabbit carcasses and leftover baits are regularly checked for and removed from site once baiting has commenced. Monitoring of the sites to remove carcasses continues for two weeks after baits have ceased being laid.
Wyndham City recommends that dog owners keep their dogs on leash during the baiting period, or make use of other parks if concerned about ingestion of poison baits or carcasses.
Does Wyndham City send out notifications?
Wyndham City sends out notification letters prior to its rabbit baiting program commencing. Notifications are sent to adjoining landowners and local veterinary clinics. Advertisements are placed in local newspapers and on Wyndham City’s website. The notification includes the targeted sites, precautionary warnings, site location, timeframes and who to contact for further information. Site entrances are signposted before the campaign commences and this signage is maintained during the program.
What can I do about rabbits on my own property?
The techniques to control rabbits for rural and urban landowners can differ. Control options include removing rabbit harbour, fencing and engaging the services of a licenced rabbit control contractor.
Contact Wyndham City’s Conservation Unit on 9742 0777 for more information on Council’s rabbit control program.