Otago Regional Council senior field adviser Peter Preston
is preparing a winter rabbit poisoning programme for land
alongside Lake Wanaka's Millennium Track.
Many more Wanaka residents than usual will find
themselves on the front line of the Otago Regional Council's
battle against rabbits this winter.
The council has moved a full-time rabbiter - senior field
adviser Peter Preston - into the town to run control
programmes around urban areas and in problematic
Council regional services director Jeff Donaldson said as the
hot weather dried the region out, rabbit breeding and
survival was increasing ''quite dramatically'' even with the
RCD virus working around the region.
Particular areas of concern around Otago were the Strath
Taieri, parts of North Otago, coastal sandy areas and, of
course, Central Otago, he said.
''While the rain at Christmas drowned a fair number in their
nests, the dry weather since then has meant breeding has
continued without a problem.''
A lifestyle block in the Queensberry Tce area yesterday,
which has been taken over by rabbits. Photos by Mark Price.
In Wanaka, many owners of small blocks of land were not
taking the rabbit problem seriously enough, he said.
''As areas are being developed, people are doing less and
less control work. Lifestylers don't have the same
understanding about the damage rabbits will do compared to
what a farmer does, so they haven't been doing the work.''
He accepted some lifestyle block owners might not be familiar
with the signs rabbits were at problem levels - at more than
three on the McLean scale - but others were aware and not
In six cases around Wanaka, ''notices of direction'' have
been imposed by the council on landowners, requiring them to
deal with their rabbit problem this winter.
Part of the Queensberry Tce subdivision has one of the area's
biggest rabbit problems.
Mr Preston said rabbit numbers there were ''really, really,
really impressive''. He was planning to use carrot bait laced
with 1080 poison.
The problem was, while some landowners had rabbits under
control, others were absentee landowners and ''they just
don't really care''.
''One woman's plan was to get her cats to kill them; another
guy's plan was to buy a shotgun. If you look at the rabbits
out there you will see that's just ridiculous.''
It was ''a nightmare'' getting all landowners to agree to a
combined control programme, Mr Preston said. Of the 70
separate properties in the subdivision, 50 had too many
Mr Donaldson said it was important for groups of landowners
to work together.
There was also a rabbit problem around the Clutha River
A poisoning programme using 1080 poison on carrot bait was
planned for the Millennium walking and cycling track around
the edge of Lake Wanaka towards Glendhu Bay.