Description: The European rabbit and Hare are found in the wild. They are usually grey/brown in colour with a white underbelly and tail.
Problem: The first problem is that they are rapid breeders. They can breed all year in New Zealand and one female can produce up to 50 young a year. While the mortality rate can be high for these young rabbits this is why rabbit control is so important. The damage that rabbits do to the environment is extensive. Urban or rural the main damage is in the burrowing that they do and the browsing of the grass and young plants.
For trees and scrubs root systems can be exposed and in severe cases ring barking can occur. Rabbits compete with stock for grazing, and in severely infested areas often eat the most. They eat the most palatable grasses right down to root level which dramatically restricts pasture productivity.
Management: Due to the size of the problem in New Zealand a large number of control methods are used, preferably in conjunction with each other as an over all tool.
Rabbit Control Methods:
• Night shooting is a good rabbit control method for small and large rabbit populations.
• Habitat removal is also something to consider when looking at a rabbit control programme. Removing habitats like gorse and blackberry thickets can reduce the desirability of the area to the rabbits, although short grass and parks areas are very desirable for rabbits as well.
• Poisoning with bait stations, hand broadcast and aerial methods, using Pindone or 1080