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Run, rabbit, run free!

September 23 2019

I feel so very fortunate to live in the Queenstown Lakes area, surrounded by the beautiful outdoors. We are all passionate about maintaining and improving our environment. In fact, I think we pride ourselves on looking after our surroundings. Clean air, open spaces, pristine lakes and rivers... and rabbits. Rabbits everywhere. Our wonderful walks and cycleways are being taken over by the rabbits – their burrows are seriously compromising the land, evidenced by the copious burrows throughout our green areas. And they don’t stop there. They are invading our back yards, living under our decks, destroying our plants and lawns.

What is the Council doing to address this? I know that rabbit control is complex, and best practice is believed to be a combination of baiting and shooting. Not easy. But not impossible. My understanding is that Council is doing neither of these things. Are they doing anything at all? Please someone tell me that they are? Looking at a recent breakdown of our rates, it appears not. We have an array of charges, ranging from recreation and event charges to uniform annual general charges... Where is the allowance for pest control?? The rabbit population continues to grow, Council continues to do nothing.

breeding like rabbits.


Response from an ORC Spokesperson

Feral rabbits are the number one pest in Otago. They are famed breeders, able to rebound quickly from control pressures, and they compete with farm animals for pasture and crop and cause land degradation. They can have long-term impacts on water quality-by causing soil erosion-and indigenous biodiversity.

Rabbits are included in ORC’s current and new Pest Plan for sustainable control, and landowners are required to control them on their own properties. Active control methods include poisoning, shooting and installing rabbit-proof fencing, and many landowners are already doing these things well. It’s essential that landowners undertake control measures to complement viruses and the efforts of their neighbours.

Biocontrols like the RHDV K5 virus released last year have had varying rates of success across the region, and cannot be seen as a silver bullet solution to the rabbit problem

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