Easter bunnies in council's crosshairs

Short Point, Merimbula where the trial will take place.
Short Point, Merimbula where the trial will take place.

Council is to take advantage of the current absence of holidaymakers and the temporary closure of the nearby caravan park and cabins to conduct a rabbit shooting trial at Merimbula's Short Point reserve.

The trial will take place at night between the hours of 8pm and 5am on 14, 15 and 16 April with Short Point Road closed from Cliff Street during those hours.

Director, assets and operations, Anthony McMahon said the trial would be undertaken as a secondary control measure following the release of the newest strain of the Calici virus (K5) in November last year.

Mr McMahon said the closure of the Beach Cabins and Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort as part of current COVID-19 social distancing measures, had opened up a window to allow the trial to go ahead with a minimum of disruption to tourists, the community and businesses.

He said the work would be undertaken in the evening over two nights by an appropriately licensed contract shooter and in collaboration with South East Local Land Service and other local landholders.

"Rabbits are a major threat to biodiversity and agricultural production in the Bega Valley Shire and therefore have a significant impact on the economy, the environment and the community.

"We hope to gather information as part of this trial to inform the development of a broad rabbit management plan for the shire."

Mr McMahon said council had three distinct aspects to its role in rabbit management across the Bega Valley Shire - to manage rabbits on council land, to support the community to undertake effective rabbit control and to assist public and private landholders to achieve co-ordinated rabbit control.

"A rabbit management plan will ensure the strategic allocation of limited resources aimed at achieving effective rabbit control across the Shire. Our overarching vision is to protect areas of high bio diversity, productive agricultural land and community facilities under threat of damage by rabbits."

He said the management of rabbits was driven by state and federal legislation and policies including the legal requirement, under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, for landowners to control and prevent the spread of rabbits.

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