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The feral European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) arrived in Australia with the First Fleet, and today is one of the most abundant mammals in Australia. It causes severe damage to the natural environment, agriculture and, increasingly, urban areas.
The feral rabbit and the domestic rabbit are the same species. Released, or escaped, domestic rabbits will readily interbreed with feral rabbits. In the Sydney region, rabbits typically breed all year round due to high rainfall and good pasture conditions.
Under NSW legislation, all landowners with rabbits on their property, including councils, are responsible for their control.
The impacts of feral rabbits in urban areas can be vast and diverse. Examples of rabbit-related impact can include damage to suburban parks, picnic areas, sports fields, residential gardens, nature strips, footpaths and road verges.
In urban areas, a combination of traditional and biological control techniques will help reduce feral rabbit population and minimise the damage they cause.
Currently, Council is focused on managing rabbits in Milperra. A controlled baiting program was conducted in June 2016 at Newland Reserve, where the NSW Government-approved pesticide, Pindone, was used. It achieved an 80 per cent reduction in the rabbit population.
Following the baiting program, Council participated in the national release of a biological rabbit control called RHDV1 K5 (a type of calicivirus) in March 2017. This control technique is only harmful to rabbits and was found to reduce the Milperra feral rabbit population by 75%. To ensure effective control of the feral rabbit population, the virus must be re-released periodically. Hence, it is timely to re-release the RHDV1 K5 virus to ensure continual control of feral rabbits in Milperra.
A rabbit trap loan service will also continue to be offered to Milperra residents.
If carrots are observed in the reserves, please leave them for feral rabbits to consume.
Report any deceased rabbits to Council for disposal.
Report rabbit sightings at feralscan.org.au
The calicivirus is only harmful to rabbits. Humans, cats, dogs and native animals will not become ill if the bait (or an affected rabbit) is consumed.
Residents with pet rabbits are encouraged to practice responsible pet ownership and ensure vaccinations are current.
For more information, go to the FeralScan website, the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage website, as well as Council's Responsible pet ownership page.