Gibbston community-led rabbit management programme

Action summary

In June 2021, Otago Regional Council (ORC) initiated the Gibbston community-led rabbit management programme. Objectives of this programme include determining which areas of Gibbston 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 July 2021, ORC undertook inspections and visits on 170 public and privately-owned properties in the Gibbston 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. This included several properties owned by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), Toitū Te Whenua - Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

A total of 52 properties inspected were assessed as requiring a greater level of control to be compliant with the relevant rules in the Regional Pest Management Plan 2019-2029 (RPMP).

In November 2021, ORC invited all landowners and occupiers to attend a community meeting and management plan workshop to allow neighbouring properties to come together and discuss their rabbit management approach, and for ORC staff to offer advice on control options.

After the meeting/workshop, the landowners and occupiers of the 52 properties indicative of non-compliance were asked to submit individual rabbit management plans detailing how they will effectively manage rabbit numbers on their properties. Staff received and reviewed a total of 49 management plans and individualised feedback was provided to landowners and occupiers in January 2022.

Between April-August 2022, Notice of Direction (NOD) inspections were undertaken for properties where there had been little/no contact with staff and no management plan had been submitted.

In September 2022, ORC reinspected the 52 properties indicative of non-compliance and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities. In total, 20 of these properties are now compliant with the relevant rules in the RPMP. We have seen a range of positive steps being taken by property owners/occupiers such as installation of rabbit fencing, engaging contractors for multi-year sustained control efforts, and coordination of efforts between neighbouring properties.


Proposed Gibbston rabbit management area

Map of Gibbston rabbit management area

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Next steps

Given that rabbit management is an ongoing challenge, we will continue to facilitate a community-led rabbit management programme in the Gibbston area and continue to monitor the effectiveness of landowner efforts in managing rabbit populations to a low level.

ORC will continue to offer guidance on effective rabbit management options to those landowners and occupiers who need it most. 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 jeopardized 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

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