Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2022) . . Page.. 1396 ..
Ms Vassarotti: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:
(1) Vehicle-based spotlight line transect count monitoring is used to monitor rabbits in strategic locations across ACT reserves and environmental offsets. Spotlighting transects are a well-established technique for providing an index of rabbit abundance and are used to prioritise more detailed warren-based surveys that inform on-ground management efforts. Monitoring is undertaken quarterly to account for natural fluctuations in rabbit numbers. Please refer to the Best Practice Management Guide for Rabbits in the ACT (https://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/715010/Best-Practice-Management-Guide-for-Rabbits-in-the-ACT.pdf ) for a detailed description of how rabbit monitoring and management is undertaken in the ACT.
Within the ACT, rabbit populations have been monitored in this way for more than 10 years in most conservation areas and more than 25 years in some reserves.
(2) The abundance of rabbits is highly varied across the ACT conservation estate and depends on availability of food, suitable habitat, predators and management effort. Rabbit monitoring within the conservation estate provides a population index to be calculated (i.e. number of rabbits seen per spotlighting kilometres) for each reserve or environmental offset area surveyed. Due to the localised nature of rabbit populations, it is not possible for the ACT Government to reliably estimate rabbit population size outside of the conservation estate due to the influence of private and rural land uses. Current priority areas for rabbit management within the conservation estate that exceed the acceptable impact threshold are:
• Ainslie Majura Nature Reserves
• Mt Pleasant Nature Reserve
• Percival Hill Nature Reserve
• Jerrabomberra Wetlands
• Red Hill Nature Reserve.
(3) European Rabbits can pose a wide range of threats to natural ecosystem, primary production, urban amenity and social values. The Best Practice Management Guide for Rabbits in the ACT provides a review of the likely impacts to natural ecosystems and primary productivity in the ACT and identified a range of native flora and fauna that are likely to be impacted.
(4) The ACT has also been the recipient of various research programs focussing on effective rabbit management, conducted by external scientific and research organisations, such as rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (Calicivirus).
Please refer to the following suggest reading list:
• Best Practice Management Guide to Rabbits in the ACT: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/nature-conservation/conservation-strategies/pest-animal-management-strategy/best-practice-management-guide-for-rabbits.
• ACT Pest Animal Management Strategy 2012-2022: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/575117/PAMS_WEB.pdf .
• Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program – refer to ecosystem condition documents on page: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/nature-conservation/conservation-research/conservation-effectiveness-monitoring-program.