THERE is little doubt that foxes and rabbits are two of Australia’s worst invasive pests.

Foxes cause livestock and economic losses for farmers and are a major threat to native species.

Rabbits detrimentally impact landscapes and biodiversity through causing soil erosion, overgrazing vegetation and competing with other animals for food.

And they are responsible for undermining homes and other structures in coastal areas.

In South Gippsland, the natural coastal and agricultural landscapes along the Bunurong coast are experiencing these adverse impacts.

But action is being taken.

In 2018-19, the ‘Enhancing Biodiversity at the Bunurong Coastal Landscape’ funded project commenced, with South Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) and their project partners (West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Trust for Nature and Bass Coast Landcare Network) actively addressing the problem of foxes and rabbits.

Now in the project’s third year, SGLN and pest animal contractors continue to work with private landholders and public land managers across 16,000ha of land between Venus Bay and Walkerville. Pest animal contractors are tackling foxes using 1080 baits and soft-jaw traps.

In February this year, a European rabbit specific-calicivirus strain was released by contractors through treated carrots. These methods are part of an ongoing, integrated approach to effectively control foxes and rabbits at a landscape scale.

Landholders have recently indicated to SGLN that they are continuing to try and control foxes and rabbits, which is costly in time and effort. Further highlighting the need for a multi-pronged approach to control pest animals. South Gippsland Landcare Facilitator, Andrea Clifford says “going forward it’s important that neighbours and local land managers work cooperatively to target pest animals”.

“We encourage landowners to work together, as an area-wide program will be far more successful than individuals working alone at different times,” Ms Clifford said.

“SGLN is dedicated to empowering landholders to participate in ongoing fox and rabbit control on their properties. In 2021, project funding will allow SGLN to provide opportunities for project participants to be further supported in their efforts to control foxes and rabbits through specialised training.”

This project has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Response Planning program to ensure that Victoria’s biodiversity is healthy, valued and actively cared for. It aligns with the implementation of Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037. Project partners include West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria and Trust for Nature.

For further information on this project, please contact info@sgln.net.au.