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Publications archive - Biodiversity

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits

Biodiversity Group Environment Australia, 1999
0 642 2546355

Executive Summary

The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is one of the most widely spread and numerous of the introduced mammals in Australia. The species has adapted to and survives in a wide range of habitat types and climatic conditions, and rabbits now inhabit some 60 per cent of the country. There is abundant evidence that the impacts of rabbits threaten the continued survival of a wide range of native species and ecological communities.

‘Competition and land degradation by feral rabbits’ is listed as a key threatening process under Schedule 3 of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 (the Act). The Act requires the preparation and implementation of a threat abatement plan to coordinate management of the impacts of rabbits on wildlife nationally.

Attempts to control wild rabbit populations in Australia have been continuing for more than a century. Eradication of rabbits on the mainland is not possible but there are effective ways to reduce rabbit numbers and to lessen the impacts of competition and land degradation on wildlife in significant areas. This plan aims to reduce those impacts over a five-year period by:

The strategy advocated to implement and further develop this threat abatement plan involves using conventional methods such as warren ripping and baiting to control rabbits in manageable areas critical to threatened species conservation. Animal welfare issues will be specifically addressed when applying conventional control methods. Close links will be set up with species recovery plans, other threat abatement plans and existing State programs.

The five-year life of this plan will consolidate and coordinate the long-term process of managing rabbit impacts on native flora and fauna. The main priority during this period is to support on-ground control programs necessary to ensure recovery of endangered species.

Rabbit control will have to continue for the foreseeable future and the costs of control will be significant. This plan therefore establishes a framework which will enable the best use to be made of any resources made available for rabbit management. The Commonwealth contribution to implementation of the plan will be delivered mainly through the programs of the Natural Heritage Trust.

Published June 1999 by Environment Australia under the Natural Heritage Trust.

Commonwealth of Australia