Environmental destructors: the common rabbit in focus

When Thomas Austin introduced rabbits to Geelong in 1895, it is hard to imagine he had any idea of the problems this would cause. Nearly 118 years on, rabbits have become one of the coasts (and indeed Australia’s) biggest pests and show no sign of disappearing.

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Why are rabbits such a big problem?

While they may look cute and fluffy, rabbits cause large amounts of damage to crops and immeasurable damage to the environment, explains Surfcoast and Inland Plains Network Pest, Plant and Animal Project Manager Brian Vagg.

“Rabbits are suspected of being the most significant known factor in species loss in Australia [although] the loss of plant species is unknown at this time.

“They are also responsible for serious erosion problems as they eat native plants, leaving the topsoil exposed and vulnerable to sheet, gully and wind erosion,” Mr Vagg said.

What can we do to control the current rabbit population?

Mr Vagg said education and people working together on a large scale is the most effect means to control rabbit populations.

“Land managers/holders are responsible for controlling pest animals on their land, but many simply do not know where to start,” he said.

Control which takes place on a gradual month by month, year to year level is proving to be the most effective with neighbours working together using a variety of methods.

Successful methods can include fumigation, baiting, trapping, filling in existing warrens and removing possible burrow sites such as wood piles and gorse.

“Most rabbit control methods are quite labor-intensive and need to be done on a regular basis en mass ideally.

“Poisoning is probably the most widely used of the conventional techniques, as it requires the least effort. Two commonly used poisons for rabbit control are sodium fluoracetate (1080) and pindone,” he said.

For more information on rabbit control in the Surf Coast area contact Brian Vagg on scipn@bigpond.com

Related blogs:

92090919Fighting furry ferals

Action and art for conservation

Students from St. Therese Catholic Primary School have been working alongside local environmental volunteers to protect threatened Moonah trees while encouraging others to look after our coastline.

Grade 3 and 4 students from St. Therese Primary School students teamed up with with volunteers from Surf Coast Inland Plains Network (SCIPN),  Torquay Coast Action (TCA) and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to plant 400 Moonah and Wirildra trees near  Whites Beach.

Drawing inspiration from the latest SCIPN wildlife card collection by local artist Mark Trinham, students also created and displayed their own artwork at the planting site.

St. Therese Primary School students Mickey Cotsopoulos, Charlotte Morgan and Olivia Gross with their artwork and GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale

Native animals such as frogs, reptiles, mammals, bats, freshwater fish and many birds from the region feature in the cards, which were developed to promote local  wildlife and conservation education.

SCIPN operations manager Mandy Coulson said students had researched Moonah Woodlands in class and also worked on their art.

“Their artwork depicts local trees and animals, and has been displayed near the planting site to raise public awareness of the coastal environment,” she said.

For more information on Moonah Woodlands, please click here.

Glenda Shomaly, a volunteer from TCA, said St. Therese Primary School plays an active role in educating its students on the importance of maintaining and enhancing the local environment.

“St. Therese Catholic Primary School students plant 400 trees a year  as a part of their carbon offset project,” she said.

The school’s sustainability coordinator, Gerard McCarthy, said students were excited to participate in the day’s activities.

“Opportunities like this allow the students to further understand their local environment and how to look after it,” he said.

“As they grow up, they will be able to appreciate their own efforts made to protect the area.”

This educational activity was made possible by a grant received from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, which is celebrating 25 years of land care this year.

Why did the site need rehabilitation?

The area, which borders Fishermans Beach and Whites Beach, was chosen because only one per cent of Moonah trees remain there due to decimation.

GORCC coastal project manager Mike Bodsworth said GORCC was grateful to the students and volunteers for their assistance in an area requiring restoration.

“GORCC has supported their work by fencing the site to protect the re-vegetated area and give it the best chance of survival,” he said.

Our coastal ecosystem will be threatened if Moonah Woodlands are not planted in the area.

More information

Torquay Coast Action hold regular working bees along the coast.

For further information please phone 5261 6266.

Check out what other students have done to help the coast in our previous blogs:

Queens Park blitz a group effort

Plunging in for fish count

Students take lead on coast care