A rabbit boom is expected after this season’s hot, dry conditions.
The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) have started preparations for the autumn 2024 calicivirus release.
Landholders seeking assistance in the control of rabbits are encouraged to contact the group to see how they can take part in the release and plan for follow up control.
Feral rabbits are prolific breeders and control efforts without consistent follow up action will be ineffective long term.
Achieving a significant reduction in established rabbit populations requires ongoing effort and the PHBG can assist landholders to build a successful integrated management plan for long-term results.
“With an especially hot, dry summer the impacts from rabbits can be exacerbated but these conditions also make control activities easier.
Both the calicivirus release and baiting control methods require rabbit pre-feeding which is easier where green feed is scarce” PHBG Executive Officer Teele Hooper-Worrell said.
An effective integrated rabbit control program will include multiple complementary methods such as bio controls, exclusion fencing, baiting, shooting and harbourage reduction. Warrens, overgrown vegetation, log piles, and unused machinery can all provide habitat for rabbits.
The PHBG has expertise in helping landholders build a property-specific plan of attack to get on top of their rabbit problem. Landholders can contact the group to see what services, equipment or information would be helpful to them including booking a site visit.
For PHBG Feral Animals Program Officer Megan Plant, 2024 will be the third time she has coordinated the calicivirus release program for landholders in the Peel-Harvey region. Landholders registering for the 2024 delivery of the virus must commit to a multi-stage process in order to participate.
“The steps involved in a successful release include monitoring, pre-feeding, distributing the inoculated pellets, and follow up control.
All steps must be followed to preserve the integrity of the program to limit or reduce immunity to the virus in local rabbits, minimising wastage and program evaluation,” Ms Plant said.
“Whilst the PHBG is constantly evolving the coordinated release to make it more effective, landholders must commit to these steps at a bare minimum if they want success”.
The calicivirus release in 2024 will be funded through the Declared Pest Account, where funds collected through the Declared Pest Rate are matched by the state government.
Landholders keen to start preparing to participate in the autumn 2024 release are encouraged to register their interest on the PHBG website www.PHBG.org.