Last week, a VRAN training course was run at Ned’s Corner in Victoria’s far north west. Peter and Colleen Barnes, the Manager’s of this extensive Trust for Nature property, have remarkable credentials. They have eliminated rabbits from vast tracts of the landscape. Rabbit decimated flora has been replaced with hectares of regeneration. New populations of indigenous fauna are returning.

Some examples of the learnings about rabbit control and the profoundly negative impacts rabbits have on the landscape and agriculture stood out.

  1. To be successful, you need to eliminate rabbits from your property. Rabbits reproduce at phenomenal rates. In fact, within 18 months a remainder can become a whole new population of 184!
  2. Best to have your neighbours on board. Rabbits know no boundaries.
  3. Rabbits are aggressive toward each other. They force dispersal. The likelihood of re-invasion is high.
  4. Most of us do not realise how productive a rabbit free landscape can actually be. 1 rabbit per hectare is enough to suppress non weed growth. This is the landscape we are used to.  At Ned’s we saw the remarkable contrast either side of a rabbit proof fence; stripped plants and bare ground on one side, unhindered regeneration on the other.
  5. Rabbit control measures come in many forms. Some combinations may be of more use in one area than another.
  6. Viral control is only registering around a 34% success rate and is often localised. This is only one weapon in the arsenal. It should not be relied upon.
  7. The ideal scenario is to time your control measures for when rabbits are at their most vulnerable (hungriest). Bait appropriately, rip or implode warrens, fumigate and collapse re-openings and action a regular maintenance plan.
  8. Some combinations may be of more use in one area than another. In some contexts, the above sequence is not possible and emphasis on techniques may vary. For instance, in the sandy north west a log skidder acted as an effective warren ripper, as opposed to the 20 tonne excavators preferred in the granite country of the north east.