Albert Town community-led rabbit management programme

Action summary

In 2021, we responded to a community request to help facilitate coordinated rabbit management on public and privately-owned land in Albert Town from the Hikuwai Conservation Reserve along the Clutha River to the outflow of the Cardrona River. Objectives of this include determining which areas of Albert Town 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 winter 2022, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) carried out a rabbit control operation undertaken on public and crown land from the Hikuwai Conservation Reserve along the walking track to the outlet of Lake Wanaka. ORC Biosecurity Staff undertook night counts of rabbits before and after the control operation and observed a significant reduction in the number of rabbits observed at the Albert Town end of the control area, particularly around the Hikuwai Conservation Reserve. Furthermore, DOC carried out improvements to the fencing around the Hikuwai Conservation Reserve, and QLDC installed rabbit fencing around Templeton Park.


In September 2023, of the five properties re-inspected, only a few 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 in the area.

 

Next steps

Given that rabbit management is an ongoing challenge, we will continue to work with public and private landowners to ensure that rabbit populations are monitored and action is taken before populations reach the same numbers as have been seen in the area in the past few years. The council will continue to offer guidance on effective rabbit management options to owners/occupiers in the Albert Town area.

We are confident that we can, collectively, support better rabbit management in Albert Town with short-term steps leading to a longer-term solution. Rabbit control needs to be ongoing to ensure rabbit numbers are maintained or reduced further.

 

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 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

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.

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