Environote: Rabbit Control in Greater Geelong

To better understand what we’re doing to control rabbits, why we’re doing it and how you can help in your area, please read on.

Summer/ Autumn Outlook 2018

Pest control is a complex issue. We receive many questions from the community about rabbits, especially as they become more visible in suburban gardens, agricultural areas and open spaces during the breeding season.

Why do we have a rabbit problem in the first place?

Rabbits have dominated Australia’s landscape since 1859, when 24 rabbits were released at Barwon Park, a property near Geelong.

They thrived in the ideal climatic conditions, and soon spread to inhabit 70 per cent of Australia’s landmass.

How big is our rabbit problem?

The rabbit is Australia’s most serious pest animal impacting:

  • Agriculture – rabbits cause an estimated $200–$600 million worth of damage each year.
  • Native vegetation – one rabbit per hectare is enough to stop the growth and regeneration of indigenous plants.
  • Soil – by digging and grazing plants to very low levels, they causeerosion.
  • Built assets – digging around built assets can undermine paths, drains and other infrastructure.
  • Domestic gardens.

Who is responsible for rabbit control?

At a state level, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for overseeing and enforcing rabbit control, under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

We are responsible for controlling rabbits on City-owned and managed land. Our secondary roles include community education and supporting local Landcare groups.

How do we prioritise rabbit control activities?

Best practice rabbit control involves a coordinated effort of baiting and removing harbour - anything rabbits can hide under such as weedy bushes, old stockpiles, fencing materials, while encouraging other land holders within the vicinity to do the same. These works typically occur in late summer and early autumn.

In general, we focus on activities:

  • where adjoining property owners have grouped together to take coordinated action
  • where high biodiversity values are present to protect assets such as sporting fields, buildings and walking tracks in coordination with other public land managers and groups, such as Landcare.

What makes effective rabbit control difficult?

Rabbit control efforts are constrained by many factors, including:

  • the large area of land that we manage, and the range of landscapes and habitats within it
  • our finite resources, such as budget
  • community safety and wellbeing concerns
  • native vegetation laws
  • cultural heritage laws
  • laws regulating management around waterways (this is a particularly complex issue).

How has rabbit control changed recently?

For the past 15 years, we have relied on an annual Pindone baiting program to keep rabbit numbers down.

This program was stopped in publicly accessible areas in 2017 due to concerns over product labels, which advise land managers against using Pindone in areas accessible to children.

As there was minimal baiting done in 2017, we expect large numbers of rabbits this year.

How will rabbit control be handled now?

We’re currently researching a safe, cost-effective and integrated solution to implement for the coming season. Biological controls will be one element of that solution.

The RHDV1 K5 is a new biological control that was released in early 2017. By working with other land managers to release it again late in summer and autumn, we hope to maximise the benefit of spread by vector flies.

Other things we are doing to control rabbits include:

  • collaborating with adjoining local governments to share ideas and discuss possible solutions
  • developing a rabbit control action plan for the Bellarine Peninsula, in consultation with relevant land managers and community groups
  • supporting local Landcare groups with their annual program for private landowners.

How can I control rabbits on my property?

  • Get together with your neighbours and talk about how you might work together to control rabbits in your area. Remember – coordinated action brings the best results.
  • Visit the Pest Smart website at or for more advice.
  • Contact your local Landcare Group to be involved in rabbit control in your area.

Need to know more...

Keep up to date on our rabbit control program in 2018 by visiting this page. You can also call us on 03 5272 4785 or email

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2018