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Coordinated community involvement in rabbit management

  • Author(s): Dowley, Brian J.
  • et al.
Abstract

European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculis) have been a problem since their introduction to Victoria, Australia in 1834. In North Central Victoria, a regional rabbit action plan was developed to harness and coordinate community action to achieve long-term benefits. This plan focuses the efforts of the community and the resources of government to achieve community and government objectives. Extensive consultation and involvement of all interested stakeholders resulted in joint ownership and commitment to implementation of the action plan. The success of this plan is due to community ownership of the problem and the committed coordinated efforts of all stakeholders. Land managers have the responsibility to implement the control works on the ground, and the Victorian government provides support to encourage landholders to work together by providing technical assistance and some funding to offset the high cost of ripping warrens. At the ground level, community groups develop local action plans (under the Regional Action Plan framework) for their area. Groups demand 80% involvement of all landholders prior to commencing control programs. On-ground works are coordinated from property to property; there are no gaps in control activity. Where landholders do not undertake control efforts that meet the community standard they are recommended to government for enforcement action, which may result in prosecution. The community ownership of the rabbit problem has resulted in an attitude change that believes “rabbit free” is essential and achievable.

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