Otago Peninsula community-led rabbit management programme

Action summary

In 2021, Otago Regional Council (ORC) engaged landowners and occupiers, from Portobello to Taiaroa Head, in the Otago Peninsula community-led rabbit management programme. Objectives of this programme include determining which areas of the Otago Peninsula 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.

Between October-December 2021, ORC undertook inspections and visits on 37 public and privately-owned properties from Portobello to Taiaroa Head to determine which locations are most affected by rabbits, which properties are managing rabbits well, and which properties require a greater level of control.

A total of 31 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.

In early 2022, ORC held a community meeting in Portobello to allow neighbouring properties to come together to discuss their rabbit management approach, and also for ORC staff to offer advice on control options. Around this time, further inspections were also undertaken on several additional properties, management plans were received and reviewed, and individualised feedback was provided to landowners and occupiers.

In October 2022, ORC reinspected these properties and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities such that 14 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 indicates an overall reduction in rabbit numbers and suggests that there have been some big improvements made since the 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.


Otago Peninsula rabbit management area


Otago Peninsula rabbit management area map

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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 Otago Peninsula 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 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

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