The bushfire conditions that have ravaged much of Australia this summer will do little to reduce and deter the wild rabbit population, according to Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia Chair Professor Wayne Meyer.
“That great survivor, the European wild rabbit, is one animal that might largely escape unscathed,” he said.
“Where it does, it has the potential to inflict yet more damage on the Australian landscape.
“As burrowers, rabbits will have avoided much of the direct fire damage and might now find themselves at least temporarily free from many of their natural predators.
“We know that rabbits will get by on the small scraps of vegetation remaining after fire has passed through and they will be the very first to pick green shoots that might emerge after rain.
“Not content with waiting for green shoots, rabbits will be digging away at the roots of perennials, in many cases killing these plants.”
Professor Meyer stressed that now is an important time to implement control measures on rabbits before they recommence breeding in autumn.
“Of course, landholders affected by the bushfires are confronted with a multitude of other tasks, but I would encourage them wherever possible to at least destroy warrens,” he said.
“Most landholders will be aware of their rabbit sites and warrens are generally relatively easy to spot after a fire.
“This could well be a task where Blaze Aid volunteers could assist.”
Professor Meyer acknowledged that Kangaroo Island was uniquely fortunate in not having wild rabbits which should assist the, albeit slow, recovery of the rich flora and fauna indicative of a rabbit-free environment.
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