Lake Hayes community-led rabbit management programme

Action Summary

 

Lake Hayes rabbit management area

In early 2021, we initiated the Lake Hayes Community-Led Rabbit Management Programme. Objectives of this programme include determining which areas of Lake Hayes 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.
In October 2021, we undertook inspections and visits on 230 public and privately-owned properties in the Lake Hayes area to determine which locations are most affected by rabbits, which properties are managing rabbits well, and which properties require a greater level of control.

 

Of these, 150 of the properties were assessed as compliant, and 80 of the properties were assessed as requiring a greater level of control to be compliant with the relevant rules in the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP). Owners/occupiers of the non-compliant properties were asked to submit a rabbit management plan detailing how they will effectively manage rabbit numbers on their properties. This included several properties owned by Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Department of Conservation.

In September 2022, we reinspected these 80 properties and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities such that nearly half (36) of these properties are now compliant with the relevant rules in the RPMP.

In September 2023, of the 44 properties re-inspected, 7 of the properties were assessed as now compliant with the relevant rules in the RPMP. This means there is still work to be undertaken to reduce rabbit numbers on the remaining properties.

Next steps 

We have seen a range of positive steps being taken by many property owners/occupiers such as installation of rabbit fencing, engaging contractors for multi-year sustained control efforts, and coordination of efforts between neighbouring properties.

Given that rabbit management is an ongoing challenge, the council will continue to facilitate a Community-Led Rabbit Management Programme in Lake Hayes and continue to work with the remaining properties to encourage them to take more action and/or to plan and coordinate their efforts more effectively.

We will continue to offer guidance on effective rabbit management options to land owners/occupiers. We will also be undertaking further inspections and following up with compliance action for some properties. This is to ensure that the hard work being undertaken by most property owners/occupiers is not jeopardised by lack of action from others.

For more information on rabbit management and the RPMP rules, visit our Pest Hub

Register your interest in a community-led rabbit management programme

Fencing

We have been promoting the installation of rabbit fencing as an effective measure to prolong the impact of any rabbit control work undertaken. These recommendations are supported by our observations in the field, which are that rabbit numbers throughout Lake Hayes are generally lower in areas where there is more rabbit fencing in place.

We will continue to promote and 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

Our work to date has been focussed on properties greater than 5,000 m² in size, but we are aware that rabbits on smaller properties are also contributing to the 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. For more information on any of these methods please visit this webpage in the first instance and email or call if you have any further questions.

Email: biosecurity@orc.govt.nz

Phone: 0800 474 082

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.

You can find more information about rabbits and available management techniques here.

If you would like further information, or a current list of rabbit contractors working in your area, please contact biosecurity@orc.govt.nz.