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rabbitsRabbits are a serious environmental pest as their grazing results in a loss of vegetation, and their warrens contribute to soil erosion. Grazing by rabbits threatens the survival of native birds, mammals, and insects that rely on plants for food and shelter. Rabbits have contributed to the extinction of many native plant and animal species. If left uncontrolled, rabbits will further invade surrounding land including back yards, causing more damage to the environment and private property.

The above extract from the ACT Parks and Conservation (PCS) rabbit control web page sums up the situation quite well. Needless to say, The Pinnacle Nature Reserve and the adjacent leased and unleased rural land have a significant rabbit control issue.

fotpin works with PCS to encourage and assist implementation of rabbit control measures on The Pinnacle Nature Reserve and the adjacent rural properties.

It is important to note that rabbit control measures on the Pinnacle Nature Reserve do not include the use of pindone poison, which is used in other places. This recognises the fact that the PNR is frequented by the vulnerable Little Eagle which feeds on rabbits. Control measures instead consist of warren fumigation and careful ripping.


Rabbit warren and activity monitoring

fotpin assists the PCS with the rabbit control program on an ongoing basis by carrying out monitoring and mapping of rabbit burrows, as described below.

We carried out systematic mapping in 2010 and 2011 (before and after the autumn 2010 fumigation program), and systematic mapping in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012.

With the success of the fumigation program, the planned continuation of these systematic surveys was discontinued after 2012 but mapping was continued as active burrows were encountered during other activities such as weed control.

Rabbit numbers have been dramatically reduced (down to about 10% of pre-2010 levels) and are now stable as a result of continued vigilance and biannual fumigation, which now takes a fraction of the time and cost required in the first few years of the program.

fotpin continues to report active burrows when found.


2010-11 fotpin rabbit burrow mapping

Prior to warren fumigation by a PCS contractor in late autumn 2010, fotpin mapped the location of rabbit warrens across The Pinnacle, Bottom Pinnacle and North Kama (see location map). This mapping assisted PCS to identify and prioritise warrens for control, collecting information on warren size (number of active entrances), rockiness, and position in the landscape. We mapped 278 active rabbit warrens (not including the large warren known as "The Annex" located in the Kama Paddock).

Follow-up monitoring was carried out in March 2011 to assess the effectiveness of the fumigation program. Details of the monitoring and its results can be seen on the 2010-2011 rabbit monitoring web page.

On the basis of this monitoring it was estimated that the number of active burrows declined by 83% between March 2010 and March 2011, most of this decrease having occurred by August. There was a similar, but smaller, decline of 64% in the number of active warrens, indicating that there were fewer active burrows per warren than before fumigation.

The results of the fotpin monitoring were compared with those from the regular PCS Spotlight Count surveys (see 2010-2011 rabbit monitoring page for details). The PCS figures suggested a decline of 70% in rabbit numbers over the same period.

We concluded that:

  • the fumigation treatment was very effective,
  • the monitoring and spotlight counts agree quite well, and
  • we have a good basis on which to monitor and recommend management of, the rabbit population into the future.


Further Information

Managing Rabbits in Canberra Nature Park, A report to the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment by Dr Kent Williams [pdf 885 kB]

Rabbit mapping Field data sheet used in March 2010 [pdf 15 kB]




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