Download European Rabbit FERAL AN IMA LS WHEATBELT

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Oryctolagus cuniculus
European Rabbit
Rabbits in plague proportions
This program is supported by Wheatbelt NRM through
funding from the Australian Government
Extensive rabbit damage in an agricultural area
Oryctolagus cuniculus
This pest needs no introduction. It is the most abundant mammal in
Australia and is widespread in our Wheatbelt. Originally introduced into
Victoria in the 1850’s rabbits rapidly spread, often reaching plague
proportions causing severe impacts on ecology and agriculture. Rabbits
can occupy a range of habitats including arid environments.
& dispersal
They are prolific breeders and are capable of producing 5 or more litters a
year with up to 5 young per litter.
Rabbits are voracious feeders devouring entire plants, including the roots,
and ring barking trees and shrubs. They prevent the regeneration of
vegetation by eating seedlings and seeds. Rabbits have contributed
significantly to the extinction of plant and animal species and impact
severely on agricultural production. Rabbits have degraded many reserves
in the Wheatbelt. They eat seedlings and prevent ground cover and
understory establishment. This inevitably leads to severe soil erosion.
Rabbits impact on revegetation sites by pulling newly planted seedlings
out by the roots. They directly compete with native animals for food. The
Black-flanked Rock Wallaby population at Mt Caroline near Tammin
suffered a severe decline in part due to competition with rabbits as well as
predation by feral predators.
In an attempt to prevent rabbits reaching the agricultural areas of WA the
government constructed a series of “rabbit proof” fences in the early part
of the 20th century running for over 1,700 kms. Unfortunately, this was
unsuccessful and they are now found throughout agricultural regions. A
biological control method using the Myxoma virus was introduced to
rabbit populations in Australia and was effective in dramatically reducing
numbers. More recently the Calici virus has been introduced to aid in the
control of rabbits. A number of other methods are used to control rabbits,
including baiting with chemicals such as 1080, bulldozing warrens, gassing
and shooting. The “Red Card for Rabbits and Foxes” is a community based
feral animal control program that runs every autumn across the
Wheatbelt. In 2014 over 4,000 Rabbits were shot during RCRF events.
European Rabbit
The Rabbit is listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).
T: 61 8 9670 3100
Wheatbelt NRM
PO Box 311