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Ferreting out rabbits around Mount Barker

A medieval form of rabbit control has made a comeback to help manage an urban rabbit problem around Mount Barker. 

Ferrets have been used to retrieve rabbits from urban gardens around Mount Barker.

In urban areas there are constraints around using conventional rabbit control methods such as baiting or warren destruction, so landholders and residents came up with the idea of using ferrets.

Dwayne Godfrey from Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin said the rabbits were having an enormous impact on town gardens and vegetation, eating everything they could.

“We started working with landholders on control measures to remedy the issue,” he said.

“After numerous meetings with concerned landholders and residents, the possibility of using ferrets was raised.”

In South Australia it is legal to use ferrets as a control mechanism for rabbits. Ferrets are not native to Australia but can be kept as pets, however they must not be released and are subject to the regulations relating to pest animals under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.

“Strathalbyn ferret owners Trevor and Joan Bottroff provided the ferrets to retrieve the rabbits from their warrens,” Mr Godfrey said.

“Adjoining landholders came out to lend a hand, and on the very first ferreting attempt, through dense shrubbery, the ferrets retrieved 27 rabbits and numerous young.

“One week later we went back and went through the procedure for the same warrens, and found new rabbits had taken up residence. We retrieved another eight rabbits and their young.

“The Bottroffs have been back six more times and have managed to remove more than 60 adult rabbits, as well as many young animals.”

Mount Barker landholders are thankful that the ferrets have helped them overcome a serious plague of rabbits that were harming residential gardens and a park area.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin will continue to monitor the area over the coming months.

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