Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 10-02-2015 Contents Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 4
More than Backs
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Toll mounts from feral rabbit plague
The economic damage caused by wild rabbits in Australia is estimated to be about $600 million annually.
Our bush capital
History tells us the European rabbit
arrived on this ancient landscape with
the First Fleet back in 1788.
It is thought these rabbits were
domesticated, providing food and fur
to the early settlers around Sydney.
It is said in December, 1859,
Australia was given its worst
Christmas present when 24 wild
rabbits were released for hunting near
Geelong in Victoria. They were even
successfully introduced to Tasmania.
Over the next 40 years rabbits
spread to Queensland, Western
Australia and the Northern Territory.
It should therefore come as no
surprise to anyone living in our bush
capital that the feral rabbit is a serious
environmental pest. Rabbits are now
so abundant in Australia they can be
found almost everywhere.
The CSIRO has calculated the
economic damage caused by wild
rabbits in Australia, including cost of
control and production losses, is
estimated about $600 million
annually. The accumulated damage to
our environment over the past 100
years is incalculable but runs into
billions of dollars.
Rabbits contribute to erosion by
borrowing, removing vegetation and
In particular in our precious
grasslands many native species are
threatened with extinction. Rabbits,
even at very low densities, can
completely suppress regeneration of
Over grazing by feral rabbits can
even lead to extinctions of many native
plant and animal species, even of trees.
Unfortunately the complete
eradication of feral rabbits is now
As a park service, what we strive for
is effective control of population
numbers. Through controlling the
overall number and density of rabbits,
we can then manage their negative
impact on our environment.
While initially successful, rabbit
calicivirus and myxomatosis are
becoming less effective as rabbit
populations build resistance to these
This means a more integrated land
management control approach is being
used here in the ACT.
As a park service, we are acutely
aware of the need to deliver effective
rabbit control programs in such a way
to limits the risk to our native and
domestic animals. This multi-faceted
approach uses widely-accepted control
techniques such as fumigating of
rabbit warrens with phosphine gas
below ground and, in certain areas,
poisoning rabbits with pindone carrot
bait above ground.
We also use physical removal
methods where appropriate.
In open areas, where access is
available, a bulldozer may be used to
rip up rabbit warrens, thus depriving
the rabbits of shelter and a safe
breeding area. Pindone is widely used
throughout Australia to control rabbits
in urban areas because it has a readily
available antidote, carried by most
veterinarians in the event of
inadvertent or secondary poisoning of
To further reduce the chance of a
domestic animal consuming pindone,
rabbit carcasses are removed soon
after the program is conducted and
signage is always erected to let owners
know to keep their dog on a lead.
A new walking trail and $340,000
eco-friendly boardwalk at the
Jerrabomberra wetlands nature reserve
has opened as part of World Wetlands
The construction of the eco-friendly
boardwalk and footbridge provides
universal access to Kelly s Swamp, a
popular bird-watching site, without
harming the environment.
Volunteers from the Friends of
Jerrabomberra Wetlands as well as the
Jerrabomberra Wetlands Management
Committee were heavily involved in
The wetlands support a variety of
waterbirds and other fauna and flora in
the heart of Canberra.They contain
mudflats, reed beds, drowned
grasslands, dense riparian vegetation,
short grassy banks and deep river pools.
ISSUES TO BE RECTIFIED
The Rocky Knob playground will be
reopened in coming weeks after
remediation work is complete.
Territory and Municipal Services
Minister Shane Rattenbury said advice
from an independent safety inspection
of the Rocky Knob playground found
it posed a number of safety risks to the
community and the playground was
slated for closure as a result.
He said he visited the park after
community feedback and asked TAMS
to fix the playground rather than
remove it. "I am pleased to announce
that, as a result, it was determined that
the identified safety issues could be
rectified and the playground would be
reopened, Mr Rattenbury said.
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