Sections of Canberra’s nature reserves will be closed from May to July while pest control operations take place for animals such as rabbits, deer and pigs.
The ACT Government undertakes rabbit control programs in areas of high conservation value to make sure their population doesn’t get to a level where they cause significant environmental harm.
Declared a pest under the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005, they’re considered a hazard to the environment as their grazing destroys vegetation and their warrens contribute to soil erosion, threatening the survival of native birds, mammals and insects which rely on plants for food and shelter.
A statement from the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate said rabbit populations had increased “considerably” in several of Canberra’s nature reserves, including Mt Ainslie, Mt Majura and Red Hill.
The following reserves will be closed every Tuesday and Thursday for rabbit population control during the following time periods:
- Entire Mt Ainslie reserve, 9 May to 26 May, 8 pm to 3 am
- Entire Mr Majura reserve, 9 May to 26 May, 8 pm to 3 am
- Entire Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserve, 9 May to 30 June, 8 pm to 3 am
- Entire Mt Pleasant reserve, 9 May to 28 July, 8 pm to 3 am
- Entire Percival Hill reserve, 9 May to 28 July, 8 pm to 3 am
The vertebrate pest control program will begin in the ACT from 15 May.
This will result in areas of the Namadgi National Park, Murrumbidgee River Corridor, Molonglo River Reserve, Googong Foreshores and Lower Cotter Catchment to be closed for visitor safety.
These closures will be staggered to leave other areas open for the public to access.
“Across our parks and reserves, vertebrate pest species such as pigs and deer endanger threatened plant and animal species through grazing, antler rubbing, trampling, trail creation, ground disturbance and wallowing,” ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna Bren Burkevics said.
“The vertebrate pest control program applies thermal aerial control methods to remove pest species from our conservation areas and minimise their negative impacts on environmental, cultural, social and economic assets.”
Aircraft may be operating within the closed areas during the program, with buffer zones, signage and sweeps prior to all operations set to occur.
“Animal welfare is a priority, and all control activities undertaken in accordance with best practice and humane control of feral animals,” Mr Burkevics said.
Specific closures for the vertebrate pest control program area:
- Namadgi National Park Naas, 15 May to 19 May
- Namadgi National Park West, 18 May to 26 May
- Namadgi National Park North, 22 May to 26 May
- Lower Cotter Catchment, 22 May to 26 May
- Murrumbidgee River Corridor, 29 May to 4 June
- Molonglo River Corridor, 29 May to 2 June
- Googong Foreshores, 29 May to 2 June
This project is supported and funded by the Australian Government through the Regional Fund for the Australian Alps and the Commonwealth National Landcare program.