Rabbit Control – Getting the message out there

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Being a member of Landcare for many years we formed a Rabbit Control sub-Committee within our Nicholson Group and having gained a Grant we focussed on a major Rabbit Control Program along the East Gippsland Rail Trail with extensive works being undertaken in a team effort over several years. Initial monitoring indicated that the problem was extensive, the undergrowth thick along many parts of the selected section of Trail, and the work ahead arduous. This didn’t deter the stoic members and having nominated a “leader of the pack” for on ground works plans were soon underway. Much monitoring, clearing of undergrowth and removal of rabbit harbour was essential. We saw a need to engage the services of a young contractor to do much of the initial clearing with assistance from Landcare Members. GPS warren recording was a great help in mapping and planning the best methods of rabbit control. Cameras were also set up in several locations. Due to the type of area, existing plantations and terrain we found that methods had to be confined to fumigation of warrens. This was not an area we could follow up with Ripping.

Many small properties abutted the Rail Trail and by talking with these landholders we were able to offer assistance in reducing rabbit numbers on these properties. During the Project we conducted two Community Forums the first early in the project was designed to educated the community about Rabbits, the life cycle, how quickly numbers increase, the various methods which can be used, and the need to all “get on board” and “do your bit” to assist in reducing numbers. We were fortunate to be able to attract some excellent guest presenters for these educational programs. We worked well together in partnership with Contractors, other agencies, the Rail Trail Committee and a positive result was achieved. Monitoring continued. We all know, Rabbit Control needs to be on-going, there is a need for sufficient funds and manpower to continue, and it must be a concerted effort, everyone needs to get on board and keep going!

A second Community Forum was held as a follow up to convey our findings with excellent reports being given by Presenters including an extensive report from our young Contractor. We endeavoured to make these Forums attractive for people to attend by providing a B.B.Q and refreshments with catering supplied by Landcare members. Throughout the project we found tremendous cooperation between everyone, all worked as a team with much happy interaction.

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Start the conversation over a cup of tea…

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I’m really lucky that I grew up in a country town surrounded by redgum forests, rivers and wetlands alongside farms in a small community. It’s provided me with great motivation to protect this space and also provide a solid foundation to have a career in the space of environment, water, agriculture and community.

Working in the rabbit management field I find that I dabble in all four areas frequently, they all connect in one way or another. Not everyone cares about rabbit issues in Australia as much as I do, but I have found by talking with someone about their values, what they care about that opens the doors and starts endless conversations.

In these conversations when I share my knowledge on the importance of rabbit management, people can soon see what the landscape can look like with no rabbits. People realise when rabbit management is not undertaken that the significant damage is done to native plants and animals, agricultural production is down and their neighbours in the community are frustrated. They soon realise that something they care about for themselves or their future generation will be lost if they don’t do something.

Once this is visualised, motivation kicks in and then there is a goal set to look after what they care about. It doesn’t matter if the value is environment, agriculture or community we all benefit, we all win if there is rabbit action.

Many of us have been undertaking rabbit management for years achieving both small and large success. Sadly many of us have been ignoring our responsibility on rabbit management. I feel nothing will change, if we change nothing so I recommend everyone to start the community conversation on what the landscape could look like with no rabbits, share the knowledge on rabbit management and you’ll soon see onground rabbit action and our landscape looked after.

Conversations + knowledge + vision = rabbit action