Controlling rabbit numbers
Landholders are legally required to control rabbits on their land. There are several methods of control available and DAFWA can provide help and advice. Control methods include:
- warren fumigation and ripping
- harbourage destruction
- rabbit-proof fencing
- shooting and trapping.
The key to success is persistence and choosing the best control method for the particular situation. An approach that combines all possible options will give the best long-term result. The involvement of surrounding landholders will reduce the extent and speed of re-infestation as a large area will be controlled simultaneously.
It is now legal to keep domestic breeds of rabbits in Western Australia without permits or conditions but the keeping of wild-type rabbits is still prohibited. Pet rabbits should be kept in insect-proof hutches to reduce their chances of contracting RHDV and myxomatosis. Good animal hygiene will also help to reduce the number of vectors available for transmitting myxomatosis. Rabbits should be kept humanely, and commercial breeders are advised to abide by the Code of Practice for the Keeping of Rabbits in Western Australia. A copy can be provided by referring to the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) contact details below.
Pet and commercial meat rabbits can be protected from RHDV by vaccination. The vaccine used is a killed vaccine and is unable to reproduce in the rabbit, so annual boosters are recommended. There are no suitable vaccines for use against myxomatosis in Australia. Vaccinating domestic rabbits against myxomatosis is prohibited as the current vaccines are based on live viruses and these could spread to the wild rabbit populations, resulting in their immunisation against the disease. This would have serious implications for agricultural production and the environment.
For further information on rabbits and rabbit control, search our website, or contact the PaDIS.