Pest Animals

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Overview

The European Rabbit and European Red Fox are both declared an Established Pest Animal under the Catchment and Land protection Act 1994. All Landowners are required to control and prevent the spread of wild rabbits and foxes on their land within the provisions of the Act.

European Rabbit

The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a small mammal native to Spain, North-western Africa and Portugal. Across its home range it is kept at sustainable levels by its many natural predators.

Introduced to Australia in the late 1850's, it was first released near Geelong for hunting.

Rabbits are herbivores and eat a variety of plant resources, including roots, pasture, crops and young tress. On average rabbits can consume up to one-third of their own body weight.

Rabbits burrow and live within complex warren systems where they shelter and breed. Rabbits can breed at any time of the year if food is in good supply, but the main breeding system follows good rainfall during late winter into spring. Rabbits can begin breeding at four months old and have a gestation period of 28 to 30 days. Females generally mate again within an hour of giving birth which can result in five or more litters being produced a year, with up to five young per litter.

Rabbit control needs to be targeted according to the biology of the species. Re-colonization from adjacent areas occurs rapidly in areas where rabbits have been controlled. Therefore collaboration with surrounding landowners is a key factor in the long-term success of rabbit control programs.

Rabbits are a significant pest animal in Hume that have substantial environmental and economic impacts on the community.

If you would like to speak to a Council officer about rabbit control please contact the Rural Environment Officer on 9205 2200.

Rabbit Virus RHDV1 national release

To combat the threat of rabbits within Australia, the national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5 was released at more than 550 sites around Australia in March 2017. Many release sites have reported seeing an observed decline in rabbit numbers.

For more information please visit PestSmart's European Rabbit information page.

European Red Fox

The European Red Fox can inhabit a variety of landscapes. In agricultural and natural landscapes they can cause severe damage by:

  • Predating on livestock especially lambs and chickens
  • Predating on native fauna
  • Transportation of disease including mange, rabies and distemper
  • Transportation of weed seeds

Foxes readily survive and prosper in urban environments as well. The distribution of urban foxes depends on the availability and distribution of suitable shelter and food. In urban environments foxes can be a nuisance by:

  • Attacking poultry and livestock in people's yards
  • Raiding garbage bins scavenging for food
  • Digging holes in lawns while scavenging for food
  • Passing disease to domestic animals

What you can do

Monitor property

By knowing the extent of the problem you then can come up with the best suited plan to give you the best results.

Develop a plan

Planning for pest animal control is the most important step in regards to being successful. Best results are achieved when you know what control methods you will use and the best timing of the methods.

Work together

Pest control is only effective if neighbours work together to achieve a common goal. Greater success is achieved if more landowners are involved.

Follow up monitoring

Conducting follow up monitoring after the control program will help determine if the program was a success. if it was not a success you may need to consider modifying your control program.

Seek advice

If you are unsure where to start with pest animal control please seek advice from Council before commencing a pest animal control program. You can contact Hume City Councils Rural Environment Officer on 9205 2200. If you manage a rural property and wish to undertake pest control works, consider applying for financial assistance through Council programs such as the Conserving our Rural Environment grant or the Agriculture Land Use Rebate.

What Council is doing

Council's pest animal control program aims to reduce the impacts of rabbits on Council-managed land across Hume. The program combines a number of different control methods to achieve maximum results such as warren fumigation, rabbit-proof fencing, baiting and harbor removal.

Council uses licensed contractors for all rabbit control works on Council land. we encourage landowners to work together, as an area-wide program will be far more successful than individuals working alone at different times.

For further information you can look at the Directory of service Providers- Rural Land Management at the bottom of the page.