Rabbit action: step 3

Effective rabbit control

box_action_rabbitEffective rabbit control involves three essential steps. Long-lasting, broadscale control of rabbits is possible – by applying a well-planned  and timely regime of poisoning, warren ripping and  fumigation. 

Each technique does a slightly different job: baiting kills rabbits and reduces the overall population; ripping warrens where possible and destroying all the places where rabbits live reduces the rabbits’ ability to survive in an area; fumigation is used to kill any remaining rabbits that might be living in warrens that are inaccessible to ripping or that were ‘missed’ during ripping (eg not clearly marked or not identified during the preripping search). Sometimes rabbits  can also dig back in and ‘re-open’ warrens if ripping is not done thoroughly (deep or wide enough).

Step 1: population knockdown

The first step is to reduce the rabbit population from medium – high densities down to a manageable level. This is usually done by chemical control (ie a poison baiting program) during the non-breeding season, and/or biological control (via natural outbreak  or deliberate release). If myxomatosis or RHDV is already present, then poison baiting should be delayed to allow the disease to reduce rabbit numbers. If rabbit density is low then extensive control can be started straight away.

See also: 

  • RAB011: Bait delivery of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1) K5 strain - Background Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) is used in Australia to minimise the impacts of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other available rabbit control […]
  • Poison baiting for rabbit control - Introduction Poison baiting is often a logical first step in an integrated program of rabbit management. However, if used alone, baiting provides only short-term control and is therefore best used as a means […]
  • Using RHDV for rabbit control - Introduction Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), previously known as calicivirus or rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD), has been highly effective in reducing rabbit populations across most of Australia. The virus that causes […]
  • RAB003: Aerial baiting of rabbits with 1080 - Poisoning with 1080 is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning with pindone, […]
  • RAB004: Ground baiting of rabbits with pindone - Poisoning with pindone is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning with 1080, […]
  • RAB002: Ground baiting of rabbits with 1080 - Poisoning with 1080 is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning with pindone, […]

Step 2: extensive control

The second part of the control program is the most important because it should destroy all source areas (where rabbits are living) and reduce rabbits to very low numbers. Extensive control ensures that the rabbit population cannot recover quickly but it must be done thoroughly to ensure success. If any warrens or harbour are not destroyed, rabbit numbers will simply build up again. This step includes control activities such as harbour destruction, warren ripping, and removal of blackberries, fallen logs or other shelters. Where the use of heavy machinery is not an option, alternative techniques such as explosives and fumigation may be used.

See also: 

  • Warren ripping for rabbit control - Video demonstrating warren ripping using a single tyne ripper for rabbit control.
  • Warren and harbour destruction - Introduction A strategic rabbit control program that features warren and harbour destruction is the most cost-effective way to reduce rabbit populations and prevent ongoing damage, particularly when applied over large, […]
  • RAB006: Rabbit Warren destruction by ripping - Warren destruction by ripping is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren […]
  • RAB007: Rabbit warren destruction using explosives - Warren destruction with explosives is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren […]

Step 3: mop-up activities

box_methods_rabbitThere are usually small numbers of rabbits that survive extensive  control so advanced control is necessary for long-term management. This is where follow-up techniques such as fumigation, shooting and trapping are used in rabbit-active areas. 

Extensive control and mop-up activities should be repeated only as required, and where possible, included as part of routine land management. If the process is followed correctly, then the rabbit population should not increase to levels where another huge knockdown is necessary (except in extreme circumstances, eg drought) and only minimal ongoing control will be required.

See also: 

  • GEN003: Trapping using soft net traps - Soft net traps consist of a flexible metal frame and netting and/or bag which collapses over the animal when triggered. Soft net traps rely on entanglement to secure and hold […]
  • Fumigation for rabbit control - Fumigation is a valuable tool in successful rabbit management programs.
  • RAB005: Diffusion fumigation of rabbit warrens - Fumigation of rabbit warrens is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren […]
  • RAB008: Trapping of rabbits using padded-jaw traps - The introduced European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has a significant impact on agricultural production and the environment. Rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren fumigation, warren and harbourage destruction, biological control with […]
  • RAB009: Ground shooting of rabbits - The introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has a significant impact on agricultural production and the environment. Rabbit control methods include poisoning, rabbit fumigation, warren and harbourage destruction, biological control with […]

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Step 4: Monitor and evaluate

 

 


Guides to help develop a rabbit management plan:

Last updated: January 4, 2017