City Hill has long been known for its large population of rabbits, but their days are numbered from Monday when the ACT Government begins its pest control program.
A range of control techniques will be used to manage the rabbit population on City Hill, including fumigation, shooting pellets by air rifle and the destruction of rabbit warrens.
Operations will begin on Monday (20 November) and run through until next month. Further operations will then take place in Grevillea Park in early 2024.
The ACT Government is currently carrying out control operations in a range of parks and reserves to address damage to natural habits and animal welfare concerns due to the size of the rabbit population.
Executive branch manager for city presentation Daniel Iglesias said the ACT Government needed to undertake rabbit control to protect Canberra’s environmental values, primary production and urban landscapes.
“Rabbits are a declared pest under the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005 and control operations are designed to maintain rabbit populations below a density where they can cause significant harm to the environment or to other assets,” he said.
“Significant rabbit numbers and damage from rabbits has been identified in both urban areas, including damage to the Italian Pencil Pines (Cupressus sempervirens) on City Hill.”
Mr Iglesias said the feral rabbit population presented a number of risks to both the natural environment and people travelling through the city.
“This control program is not only designed to protect these trees of significance but also to address animal welfare concerns due to insufficient vegetation to support grazing for a large population, traffic concerns from road users braking or swerving to avoid collisions, and the risk rabbit burrowing poses to pedestrians walking through the area,” Mr Iglesias said.
Members of the public are unlikely to be disrupted by the control operations because rabbit control will mostly be undertaken at night when the area is generally not in use. The area’s formal closure is not deemed necessary, but signs will inform the community of the rabbit control operations.
Mr Iglesias said the operations would be carried out by a qualified, certified contractor experienced in rabbit control in publicly accessible urban areas.
“Follow-up assessments will be undertaken after the initial operations are completed in December 2023. These will help to determine the effectiveness of the control program and determine whether any follow-up action is required in the short term or in future,” he said.
“The control works have been planned under the leadership of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate’s vertebrate pest team. It is a good example of ACT Government managers working together to address a land management problem.”