Understanding your rabbit control options

As a landholder you have choices to control rabbits on your land. Following are some of the control techniques that may be appropriate for your situation.

Baiting – Primary Rabbit Control

Baiting (using 1080 or Pindone) is often the best control option for a quick reduction in rabbit numbers. However, baiting is short lived if not combined with other control methods.

Landholders must hold relevant chemical qualifications to use poisons in NSW.

Pindone is the only poison that can be used in urban areas (on properties greater than 1000m2) as there is an antidote available (Vitamin K) from a veterinarian should any off-target poisoning occur. Pindone is applied to either oats or carrots. Oat bait is available over the counter at rural merchant suppliers, while carrot bait must be supplied by an Authorised Control Officer (ACO) of Local Land Services.

Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) can be used in rural settings and some peri urban settings where the Pesticide Control Order (PCO) allows. An ACO must undertake a risk assessment when issuing 1080 products. A particular PCO consideration is distance restrictions, which require bait to be laid at least:

  • 150m from your own dwelling
  • 500m from another dwelling
  • 20m from a domestic water supply
  • 5m off a boundary fence.

Warren/harbor destruction – Primary

The aim of warren destruction, or ripping, is not just to bury the warren entrances but to ensure thorough breakdown of the warren structure. Warren and above ground harbor destruction is the most important part of lasting control by removing the areas rabbits depend on for survival.

Fencing – Preventative measure

Rabbit proof fencing can be installed around properties or assets. Maintenance is essential to effective fencing. Fencing will also prevent movement of other small animals and this should be considered in selecting this option.

Shooting – Secondary

Shooting is a secondary control option. This option is preferable in rural areas and some peri-urban areas as opposed to urban areas where firearms have a higher risk.

Shooting should be utilised after an initial knock down of the population to destroy the individuals that survived that knock down.

Trapping – Secondary

Trapping is a time-intensive control option. It controls small amounts of rabbits at a time and only should be used where other options cannot be utilised. Soft-jawed traps with rubber-padded jaws or cage trap can be used.

Trapping is useful if you are concerned about off-target (native) animals but it leaves you with a live rabbit to dispatch.

Fumigation – Secondary

Fumigation of warrens is labour intensive and costly. It is best used as a follow-up technique to poison i.e. when rabbit density is low.

Fumigation can be used where ripping cannot be done due to inaccessible location (e.g. near rocky outcrops, along fences or riverbanks, around trees) or when there is a risk of soil erosion or damage to conservation areas.

Biological control – Primary

Initial releases of rabbit diseases are primary controls, these are organised by Local Land Services or DPI. Subsequent release or spread are only secondary controls.

Myxomatosis and Rabbit Calicivirus virus are rabbit-specific diseases that have been released in Australia. Both persist in rabbit populations but cannot be relied on to control rabbits alone. Some rabbit populations will have immunity to these diseases and will survive an outbreak.

Using other control methods when a disease is active can capitalise on an outbreak.

Where to find out more

To better understand pest management issues in your region, please read your Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plan.

For further information on the history of rabbits in Australia, impacts and guiding documents/templates for management please visit the PestSmart website.

Read more about 1080 pest control orders and related information on the Environmental Protection Authority website.

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