Keep an eye on rascally rabbits
IN recent months rabbit sightings have been reported across the Valley, but according to pest expert Dean Chamberlain, numbers are not out of control ... yet.
Dean is a ranger for North Coast Livestock Health and Pest Authority in Grafton.
He said coastal areas like the Clarence didn't tend to get the plague proportions of rabbits seen out west, but the pest still needed to be controlled.
“I've been here for 10 years and never seen any huge population build up,” Dean said.
“Most of our work here is around small populations under people's houses, on farms and in people's veggie gardens.”
The problem with rabbits, according to Dean, is the environmental damage they cause.
Rabbits are blamed for creating erosion on the land, removing seedlings and preventing regeneration of native trees and shrubs and directly competing with native animals and stock for food.
They are also prolific breeders.
They breed every three months and produce litters of four to five kittens.
An initial introduction of 24 wild European rabbits to Australia in 1859 produced an astounding 10 billion rabbits by the 1920s.
Control methods used in the Valley have included the release of the calicivirus, myxomatosis virus and poisons.
To report rabbit sightings or for information on controlling the pest, call the North Coast Livestock Health and Pest Authority on 6642 3699.