Farmers across South Australia are being urged to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to combating rabbits this summer.
Rabbits are regarded as South Australian agriculture’s most costly pest, estimated to impact on agricultural production by $250 million a year.
Found statewide (except for Kangaroo Island), they are also a significant threat to biodiversity affecting the survival of more than 300 plant and animal species.
This year, a combination of seasonal factors has experts concerned about increasing numbers of the pest right across the state.
Department of Primary Industries and Regions’ Principal Biosecurity Officer (Pest Animals) Brad Page said wild rabbit numbers are higher this year due to a mild summer last year which increased the size of breeding populations and abundant green feed following good rainfall in 2021.
"Normally, a large proportion of wild rabbits die during hot and dry summer conditions in South Australia, but this year the forecast is for a La Nina weather pattern which could mean a wetter season for the state," he said.
"It is important that property owners and managers take steps over the coming months to control rabbits – summer is the most efficient and cost-effective time to start a baiting program."
Mr Page said landholders should work with their neighbours for the best control and consult with the local Landscape Board about options.
"The destruction of warrens after a baiting program is key to achieving long-term rabbit control," he said.
Federal funding, provided by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, supports state- wide PIRSA facilitated masterclasses in pest control to support landholders control rabbits, foxes, deer and unpalatable grasses.
Masterclasses, supported by the regional Landscape Boards, have been held during 2021 and are expected to be held again in 2022 on Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula, Loxton and in the Barossa.
For more information, go to Rabbits.