Moeraki community-led rabbit management programme

Action summary

In September 2021, Otago Regional Council (ORC) initiated the Moeraki community-led rabbit management programme. Objectives of this programme include determining which areas of Moeraki 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 97 public and privately-owned properties >0.5ha in size, in the Moeraki 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 Waitaki District Council (WDC) and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

A total of 40 properties inspected were assessed as requiring a greater level of control to be compliant with the relevant rules in theRegional Pest Management Plan 2019-2029 (RPMP). Engagement visits were conducted by staff to the rest of the properties (196 properties) within the programme area (i.e. properties <0.5ha in size).

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 also offer advice on control options. At this time, ORC also undertook an inspection on the KiwiRail rail corridor land. 

After the meeting/workshop, the landowners and occupiers of the 40 properties indicative of non-compliance were asked to submit a rabbit management plan detailing how they will effectively manage rabbit numbers on their properties. In total, 20 management plans were received. These were reviewed by staff and individualised feedback was provided to owners/occupiers. 

In October 2022, ORC reinspected the properties indicative of non-compliance and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities. In total, 13 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 October 2022 inspections showed an overall reduction in rabbit numbers and suggests that there have been some improvements made since the initial round of inspections conducted in 2021. 

Areas where rabbits are still not being managed to a compliant level have also been identified, 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 landowners and occupiers within these areas to encourage them to take more action and/or to plan and coordinate their efforts more effectively. 


Proposed Moeraki 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 Moeraki 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, visit our Pest Hub.

Register your interest in a community-led rabbit management programme

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