Otago Regional Council (ORC) are supporting a community response to rabbit management in certain areas by bringing together affected landowners and occupiers to discuss the problem, and collectively work out solutions.

Rabbits are a priority pest in Otago, and they present complex challenges for pest management. Under Rule of the Regional Pest Management Plan 2019-2029 (RPMP), an occupier within the Otago region shall control feral rabbit densities on the land they occupy to at or below Level 3 on the Modified McLean Scale (MMS).

Objectives of these community programmes include determining which areas are particularly rabbit prone and why, providing education about roles and responsibilities in relation to rabbit management, and providing guidance on effective rabbit management approaches.

ORC’s role is not to undertake or fund rabbit control work but to facilitate effective rabbit management by coordinating communities and supporting them with the information and guidance they need to achieve and maintain compliance with the rules of the RPMP.



ORC have been promoting the installation of rabbit fencing as an effective measure to maximise the effects of any rabbit control work undertaken. These recommendations are supported by our observations in the field, which are that rabbit numbers throughout the community-led programmes are generally lower in areas where there is more rabbit fencing in place.

We continue to strongly recommend rabbit fencing as the first step in an effective, long-term, sustainable rabbit management plan. Even if it is not feasible to fence the entire property boundary all at once, strategic fencing along boundaries that are most prone to reinvasion can still go a long way towards keeping rabbit numbers down to a manageable level.

Tips for smaller properties

ORC’s work to date has been focused on properties greater than 5,000 m2 in size, but we are aware that rabbits on smaller properties may also be contributing to an area’s problem. If rabbits are able to graze, hide or even just pass through these properties then there are measures that the property owner/occupier could take to contribute to the wider collective rabbit management effort.

These measures include:

  • Rabbit exclusion fencing
  • Pruning the bottom of shrubs and hedges to reduce the amount of suitable shelter for rabbits
  • Ensuring that any gaps under buildings and sheds are blocked to prevent rabbit access
  • Removing any piles of wood, rubbish or vegetation that offer rabbits protection from the weather and predators

Control methods on smaller properties and in urban settings can also include the use of Pindone rabbit pellets in bait stations, fumigation of burrows (using Magtoxin) as well as follow up shooting (in appropriate locations) by experienced contractors. Please note that any toxic agents (i.e. Pindone and Magtoxin) must only be used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to minimise the risk of harm to children, pets, stock and native wildlife.

For more information on any of these control methods visit our Pest Hub.

If you have further questions, call 0800 474 082 or email biosecurity@orc.govt.nz.

Alternatively, if you are interested in more information about rabbit contractors working in your area, please contact us and we can email you a current list.

Current community programme areas

Register your interest in a community-led rabbit management programme

ORC will use this information to forward you any relevant community updates, let you know if any community meetings and/or workshops are being held in your area, or to record your interest in being involved in future programmes.