Eradication of rabbits from landscape scale exclosures: pipedream or possibility?

Authors

  • John L. Read,

  • Katherine E. Moseby,

  • Jason Briffa,

  • Adam D. Kilpatrick,

  • Andrew Freeman


John Read, Katherine Moseby and Adam Kilpatrick are adjunct lecturer, adjunct lecturer and PhD candidates, respectively at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (University of Adelaide, SA, Australia; Tel: +61 8 86481878; Email: john.read@adelaide.edu.au; katherine.moseby@adelaide.edu.au; adam.kilpatrick@adelaide.edu.au); Jason Briffa is a consultant ecologist with GHD Pty Ltd (Geelong, Vic., Australia; Tel: +61 3 52731856; Email: jason.briffa@ghd.com) and Andrew Freeman is Program Manager Biodiversity with the Eyre Peninsula NRM Board, Port Lincoln, SA, Australia; Tel: +61 8 8682 7530; Email: andrew.freeman@epnrm.com.au). All authors have also been ecologists with Arid Recovery (PO Box 147, Olympic Dam, SA 5725, Australia). This study was carried out in the Arid Recovery Reserve in northern South Australia.

Abstract

Summary  High densities of the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were eradicated from 60 km2 of the Arid Recovery Reserve between 1996 and 2001. Eradication was possible due to an initial knockdown caused by rabbit haemorrhagic disease, followed by effective exclusion fencing, broadscale poison baiting, targeted shooting, warren destruction and trapping on rabbit burrows and buckheaps. The efficacy of different broadscale control and intensive rabbit eradication techniques was subsequently estimated in a 26 km2 expansion to the Reserve from 2002 to 2006. Non-target implications of these control techniques were also assessed where possible. An estimated 8000 rabbits were removed in total from both areas and results suggest that rabbit eradication is possible at a landscape scale. Strategies for eliminating rabbits from confined areas are suggested.

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