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Rabbit damage and control

Rabbit damage - an overview

Rabbits are one of Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pests. They cause over $200 million damage to Australia’s agricultural and pastoral industries each year through lost production, and cause unmeasured environmental damage and social problems. They also require a high level of management, and farmers, governments and communities need to come together to manage the problems they cause and prevent their further spread.

To read more about how and why Rabbits are an agricultural, environmental and urban pest, go to Rabbit damage - an overview.

Why measure damage?

Identiyfing and measuring the damage caused by rabbits is probably the most important information you can collect. The main reasons to identify and measure Rabbit damage are:

  • Identify the actual (not perceived) problems caused by rabbits
  • Decide when to take action to prevent that damage from occurring
  • Identify priorities, opportunities and constraints for rabbit control
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of control efforts in terms of reduced damage levels
  • Determine the feasibility of various management options and how many resources may be needed in a control program.
How and when we measure damage caused by rabbits is also very important.

Image source NSW DPISource: NSW Department of Primary Industries

Controling rabbits

The aim of rabbit control should be on reducing the damage rabbits cause, not just on reducing the numbers of rabbits. It is critical to know where rabbits occur, as well as when and where damage is occurring in order to successfully control rabbits and to see benefits from your control program.

The RabbitScan mapping tool can help you to identify and map where rabbits occur, map when and where damage is most severe, and map areas where control is required or underway. This can help you plan and evaluate rabbit control activities.
There are many techniques available for the control of rabbits to reduce the damage they are causing. These include chemical (e.g poisons), mechanical (e.g. warren ripping) and biological (e.g disease) techniques. Information about these techniques and when they should be used is available from many websites and sources.

Best practice rabbit control

Advice from the experts includes the need to adopt a best-practice approach to rabbit control. Landholders who use the best-practice approach are more likely to achieve cost-effective results, reduced damage levels, and improved productivity outcomes, as they focus on the best available techniques, sound scientific advice and local knowledge to develop and implement appropriate management plans. For information about how to best control rabbits go to Control techniques and best practice.
Rabbit carrots prepared for a baiting program. Source: D Croft
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