A new weapon against South Australia’s devastating pest rabbit population, which impacts agricultural production by $200 million a year has been unveiled.
The Marshall Liberal Government has purchased a Warren Blasting Unit which is used to destroy rabbit warrens in areas that are inaccessible to the normal process of ripping them open.
Minister of Primary Industries and Regional Development David Basham visited a farm at Hay Flat to see the device in action.
“Rabbits are regarded as agriculture’s most costly pest, estimated to impact agricultural production by $200 million a year and threaten more than 300 plant and animal species,” Minister Basham said.
“Reports suggest rabbit numbers have been worse this last year due to abundant green feed from good rains and a lack of heat over the last summer.
“The Warren Blasting Unit is a new tool which will be demonstrated to farmers by Department of Primary Industries and Regions officers. Some Landscape Boards and contractors have also purchased Warren Blasters, which are available to landholders, to improve the control of this invasive pest species.
“The machine destroys rabbit warrens by releasing a precise mixture of gases into the tunnels, which is then ignited by a remote detonation device.
“The resulting high energy blast wave, which instantly travels through the warrens, causes the death of any pest rabbit within it while also collapsing the tunnels, hindering other rabbits from re-establishing at the site.
“There are strict controls in place around use of the unit, particularly to prevent bushfires and to ensure it is operated in a humane fashion.
“Landholders are responsible for the control of rabbits on their properties but government can play a valuable role by working with landholder groups and industry to improve control.”
The new unit will be demonstrated in combination with other conventional control methods which include baiting, warren ripping and fumigation and biological controls.
The Eyre Peninsula and Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Boards have also purchased units and landholders are encouraged to contact these boards to discuss their rabbit control program options.
This unit will also create opportunities for new and established pest control businesses to broaden/improve their pest control services, benefiting landholders across all of South Australia.
For more information on rabbit control and available control tools visit: https://www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/introduced-pest-feral-animals/find_a_pest_animal/rabbits