Lake Hayes community-led rabbit management programme

Action Summary

In  early  2021, the Otago Regional Council (ORC)  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, ORC  undertook inspections and visits  on over 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.

Nearly 80 of the 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). Landowners and occupiers of these 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 one property managed by the Department of Conservation.

In September 2022, ORC reinspected these properties and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities such that 20 of these properties are now compliant with the relevant rules in the RPMP and others will be soon if they keep up their current rabbit management efforts. We have seen a range of positive steps being taken by landowners and occupiers such as installation of rabbit fencing, engaging contractors for multi-year sustained control efforts, and coordination of efforts between neighbouring properties.

Data collated from the September 2022 inspections showed that rabbit numbers are still elevated in Slope Hill Reserve but that there has been an improvement from last year, and that there has been a big improvement at the Lake Hayes Pavilion. The map also shows that there are several properties where rabbits are still not being managed to a compliant level, and we are concerned that inadequate action on some properties may hinder the rabbit management efforts undertaken by neighbouring properties. ORC continues to work closely with the landowners and occupiers of these properties.


Next steps 

Given that rabbit management is an ongoing challenge, we will continue to facilitate a community-led rabbit management programme in the Lake Hayes 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 landowners and 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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