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The value of having no wild rabbits in south-east Queensland

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Brennan, M. and Berman, D. (2008) The value of having no wild rabbits in south-east Queensland. In: Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, 10-13 June 2008, Canberra, ACT.

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Rabbits released in Australia in 1859 spread to most areas of suitable habitat by 1910 causing great damage to the
environment and primary industries. Measurement of damage is essential to justify spending money and utilising resources to remove rabbits. Damage to pasture and biodiversity may be irreversible and therefore difficult to measure without comparison with an area that has never suffered such damage. A rabbit proof fence completed in 1906 protected a large part of south east Queensland from rabbits. The Darling Downs Moreton Rabbit Board (DDMRB) continues to maintain the fence and keep the area relatively free of rabbits. This area is unique because it is highly suitable for rabbits and yet it has never ‘experienced’ the damage caused by plagues of uncontrolled rabbits. A study site was established where the DDMRB fence separates an area heavily used by rabbits (‘dirty side’) from an area that has never been infested by rabbits (‘clean side’). The number and location of all rabbit warrens and log piles were recorded. The absence of warrens from the ‘clean side’ shows clearly that the rabbit proof fence has prevented rabbits from establishing warren systems. The ‘dirty side’ is characterised by a high number of warrens, a high density of rabbits, fewer pasture species and low macropod activity. Future work will determine whether the rabbit populations are viable in the absence of rabbit warrens. We plan to radio collar rabbits on both sides of the fence to measure their survival rate. In selected warrens and log piles of varying degrees
of complexity and size, rabbits will be trapped and information on reproduction and age structure will be collected. This will allow better targeting of the source of rabbits during control operations. Once the initial comparative analysis of the site has been completed, all rabbit warrens will be destroyed on the dirty side
of the fence. After rabbits are removed from this area, monitoring will continue to determine if pasture and biodiversity on opposite sides of the fence begin to mirror each other.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Diversity of rabbits; rabbit warrens.
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Impact assessment
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Live Archive:12 Jun 2009 01:51
Last Modified:22 Dec 2021 03:03

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