Queensberry community-led rabbit management programme

Action summary

In early 2022, Otago Regional Council (ORC) initiated the Queensberry community-led rabbit management programme. Objectives of this programme include determining which areas of Queensberry 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 February 2022, ORC undertook inspections and visits on 65 public and privately-owned properties in the Queensberry 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. Included in these inspections were the Central Otago District Council’s (CODC) road reserve and the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Poison Creek reserve.

A total of 34 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 September 2022, ORC reinspected these properties and were pleased to see a reduction in rabbit densities such that 10 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 which areas of the Queensberry programme are still particularly rabbit prone and suggested that there have been some big improvements made since the initial round of inspections conducted in February 2022.

The data also indicated areas 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 landowners and occupiers within these areas to encourage them to take more action and/or to plan and coordinate their efforts more effectively.  


Next steps 

Given that rabbit management is an ongoing challenge, ORC will continue to facilitate a community-led rabbit management programme in the Queensberry 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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