A Kangaroo Island resident has been convicted and fined $900 for introducing a rabbit to the island.
Kangaroo Island is rabbit free. The movement, sale and ownership of rabbits on the island is prohibited under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (NRM Act).
Concerned community members first raised the alarm informing the Department for Environment and Water in late 2017.
On investigation the Kangaroo Island man was found to have a female rabbit, which was removed immediately and rehoused on the mainland.
Department for Environment and Water Biosecurity Liaison Officer Andrew Triggs said, rabbits could have a devastating impact on Kangaroo Island’s native vegetation and animals as well as agricultural industries.
“Current estimates of the impact of rabbit populations on agriculture across Australia are in excess of $200 million a year,” Mr Triggs said.
“Female rabbits are prolific breeders having a gestation period of only 31 days and having an average litter of 12-13 kittens.
“Feral rabbits eat crops and compete with livestock for pasture and are also a significant contributor to widespread soil erosion.”
Mr Triggs added that the Threatened Species Recovery Hub recently released a new study showing that rabbits are Australia’s worst invasive species impacting over 300 threatened species.
“Rabbits pose a significant threat to native vegetation and compete with endangered animals for food and habitat,” Mr Triggs said.
Under the NRM Act, a penalty of up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 may be imposed for such an offence.