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

New Forum Topics

Topic Replies Last post Forum
5960 An old bloke, new farmer
by Dazmac on Sun, 02/23/2020 - 15:29
0
by Dazmac
Sun, 02/23/2020 - 15:29
New Members
5933 Pasture management for newbie
by Oneeyedman on Sat, 01/25/2020 - 16:47
3
by admin
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:59
Farming Help
5948 Looking for a lely tined weeder
by mcilett on Sun, 02/09/2020 - 18:14
1
by admin
Tue, 02/11/2020 - 12:35
Machinery & products
5937 Looking for Giant Bermuda Grass Seed
by CQGems on Wed, 01/29/2020 - 07:13
2
by CQGems
Sat, 02/01/2020 - 06:41
Pastures & Crops
5932 Black headed cockchafers
by Megz on Fri, 01/24/2020 - 13:06
1
by admin
Fri, 01/31/2020 - 16:28
Farming Help
5930 bobby calves
by Allison68 on Sat, 01/18/2020 - 22:58
2
by admin
Wed, 01/22/2020 - 17:28
Farming Help
5673 Goat Worming
by Brettgarland on Sat, 05/11/2019 - 17:06
9
by rocket
Sun, 01/12/2020 - 10:57
Farming Help
3822 goats
by matthew10goats on Thu, 08/09/2018 - 21:05
4
by admin
Fri, 01/03/2020 - 14:32
Farming Help
5918 Hello from a new member and slashing grass
by HarmonFarmin on Wed, 12/18/2019 - 15:58
1
by admin
Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:37
Farming Help
5909 New to all of this. Improving my posture for Alpacas.
by Gingerbread Man on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:17
4
by Gingerbread Man
Fri, 12/13/2019 - 19:19
Pastures & Crops
5908 Adding cameras to tracotrs
by IHeartRobots on Fri, 12/06/2019 - 08:20
1
by admin
Fri, 12/13/2019 - 11:55
Farm software
5914 Oil Level in A NH Roller Bar Hay Rake
by Clydie on Tue, 12/10/2019 - 19:19
1
by admin
Thu, 12/12/2019 - 10:44
Machinery & products
5757 Nigerian Dwarf Goats
by gem7680 on Wed, 07/03/2019 - 17:28
3
by First Fleet
Wed, 12/04/2019 - 11:39
Goats
5905 GST on agistment lease
by Louise2507 on Mon, 12/02/2019 - 09:59
2
by Louise2507
Mon, 12/02/2019 - 12:49
General Forum
5466 How to Become Classified as A Primary Producer/Alpacas
by Char on Fri, 02/01/2019 - 11:04
3
by thomen
Mon, 12/02/2019 - 10:40
Farm planning
5453 Pasture Improvement Costs
by @Nick on Mon, 01/14/2019 - 19:44
4
by admin
Fri, 11/29/2019 - 17:28
Farming Help
5903 Setting up Cattle scales load bars
by bigdave06 on Wed, 11/27/2019 - 13:43
0
by bigdave06
Wed, 11/27/2019 - 13:43
General Forum
5894 Soil aeration
by Albertgotdonkey on Fri, 11/08/2019 - 08:16
4
by Albertgotdonkey
Tue, 11/19/2019 - 17:33
General Forum
3032 Selling meat off farm that is slaughtered by a registered abattoir
by Dominiquet on Sun, 08/14/2016 - 17:38
5
by admin
Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:13
Farming Help
5855 sheep and goats
by mick650 on Mon, 09/09/2019 - 20:06
3
by ploist125
Thu, 11/14/2019 - 06:11
General Forum

Our Sponsors

Our Partners