5 tips for fighting rabbits

European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus cuniculus)

Rabbits may be one of the cuter pests, but they’re pretty destructive creatures. A family of 10-15 rabbits is the equivalent of an adult sheep grazing, and they can eat a lot of valuable feed. Rabbits eat the best quality pasture, reducing what is available to your stock, and they then disturb the soil, causing it to erode and blow away.

if you’re thinking about shooting, you’ll need a .22 and a firearms licence, or you can use a suitable air rifle, no licence required. However, shooting will only kill about a third of a population, and the remaining rabbits will learn to hide from spotlights or when they hear a gun.

the most cost-effective way to control rabbits is using poison products, but these will kill any warm-blooded creature so you need to be careful when using it. Use proper bait stations, and warn neighbours who have pets as poisoned rabbits may cross into their properties.
timing is important with poisons – they are best used from March to September so you are targetting the entire population, or otherwise you will miss baby rabbits still in the warren.

• Make your block less attractive to rabbits:
-don’t over-graze; rabbits like very low pasture – keeping pasture longer means it is less palatable to them;
– longer pasture is also bad for the survival of baby rabbits as it stays colder and wet;
-clear up piles of rubbish, don’t leave wood in piles, and cut down areas of blackberry or other weeds as these are all perfect habitat for rabbits.

• the most effective way to stop rabbits encroaching on your block is to have a rabbit-proof fence, but this is also the most expensive. The next best thing is to protect precious trees or garden areas using wire mesh, thick newspaper, or corrugated cardboard.


Read more information on hunting rabbits here: http://www.doc.govt.nz

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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