Rabbit baiting program to be trialled

The City of Greater Geelong is rolling out a trial of its new pindone baiting program across the region, in a bid to reduce a record number of rabbits currently damaging environmentally sensitive habitats and recreational areas at six City managed reserves.

Recent inspections at various nature reserves and community parks found very high rabbit populations as well as a high number of rabbit warrens.

As a result, the City is implementing a pindone baiting program at the following locations:

• Mount Brandon Peninsula (Barwon & Moorabool River Reserve), Highton

• Waurn Ponds Creek (between Rossack Drive to Pioneers Road), Grovedale

• Drysdale Pony Club, Reserve Road, Drysdale

• Lara Recreation Reserve, Alkara Avenue, Lara

• Haines Reserve, Wilks Street, Hamlyn Heights

• Hovell’s Creek (Windermere Road to Forest Road North), Lara.

The trial of the City’s new pindone baiting program will incorporate best practice risk mitigation processes, including detailed site planning and preparation for each location.

Extensive efforts will be taken at each site to reduce the risk of other animals or humans coming into contact with pindone, which will be laid in the form of baited carrots or oats. This includes stringent baiting methods, installing temporary fencing, closing public access to some sections of the reserves and extensive signage around the baiting areas. Installation of the temporary fencing has commenced, however baiting will not start until all signs are in place.

Pindone will be laid by contractors in the evening. Any leftover bait or deceased rabbits will be collected early the following morning.

City Officers are currently finalising the start date of the baiting program with Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions approved pest controllers. Temporary fencing and signage will remain on site for approximately three weeks from the first night of baiting.

Neighbours of the reserves being baited have been notified of the planned trial. Any community members walking near the areas closed for baiting are advised to keep their dogs on leash.

The baiting program is expected to significantly reduce rabbit numbers in areas where the population of rabbits are damaging sporting fields and significant environmental assets.

Rabbits are Australia’s most serious pest herbivore, with one rabbit per hectare enough to stop the growth and regeneration of indigenous plants.

Rabbits cause up to $600 million worth of damage to Australian farms each year. They also cause significant erosion by digging and grazing plants to very low levels and they spread weed species.

The pindone baiting program will form part of the City’s integrated rabbit control plan, which will also include targeted warren modification, fumigation and biocontrol releases such as the calicivirus.

Director City Services Guy Wilson-Browne:

Our officers receive many phone calls from local residents concerned about the growing population of rabbits and the damage they are causing to public reserves.

As a result we are taking action using best practice pest control methods in accordance with Agriculture Victoria recommendations.

The pindone baiting program is an important element of our overarching rabbit management program. The City is currently developing a draft Rabbit Management Policy and Rabbit Control Plan which with guide how the City controls rabbit populations in the future.

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