Rabbits are designated a regional control animal pest. Landowners are responsible for the control of rabbits on their land.
Description and background
Rabbits breed prolifically and compete directly with domestic stock for grazing, reducing the amount of pasture available. It has been estimated 10 rabbits eat as much pasture as one sheep.
Over-grazing also damages vegetation and leaves the soil exposed and vulnerable to erosion from wind and water. Rabbit burrowing encourages tunnel erosion and rabbits damage young timber tree crops, horticultural crops such as commercially grown vegetables, as well as fruit trees in orchards. In urban areas they can damage gardens.
Rabbit prone areas in Hawke’s Bay centre around pumice soils, coastal sand dunes and river beds such as the Waipawa, Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri.
What is HBRC doing?
The control of rabbits is managed under the Regional Pest Management Strategy 2013-2018. The aim is to minimise any significant adverse effects of rabbits on economic well-being or the environment, by maintaining rabbit populations at or below Level 4 on the McLean Scale. Landowners support and assistance is needed to achieve this.
What can you do?
The control of rabbits is at the landowner’s expense and rabbit numbers must meet the rule described below, unless Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved the control programme.
Every land occupier, from mid-January to mid-August, must maintain rabbit populations at or below level 4 of the McLean Scale over any part of their land. A breach of this rule is an offence under section 154 of the Biosecurity Act 1993.
Approved programmes may qualify for a subsidy under the HBRC pest control incentive scheme.
If a landowner does not adhere to the rule or an approved management programme, under the Biosecurity Act 1993 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council may carry out control work and recover those costs from the landowner.