The organisation of rabbit control (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Western Australia
- Author(s): Tomlinson, A. R.
- Gooding, C. D.
- et al.
Under Western Australian legislation, landholders have an obligation to control rabbits on their properties; local authorities the responsibility to supervise their work whilst the Agriculture Protection Board has a Statewide supervisory and co-ordination role. Prior to 1950 (when the Agriculture Protection Board was formed) the central role was in the hands of a government department which, through lack of staff and money, was unable to provide adequate supervision, and rabbits were in plague proportions. Since 1950, the Board has actively engaged in a vigorous policy aimed at tighter control and supervision. To enable this, the Board has entered into a voluntary scheme with local authorities whereby the role of local supervision of landholders is passed to staff employed by the Board, but jointly financed by the local authority and the Board. A contract poisoning service is also provided by the Agriculture Protection Board to any landholder who is unable or unwilling to meet his obligations in this area. Both services are subsidised. Two of the major reasons for the poor level of control existing before 1950 have thereby been minimised. Soon after Its formation, the Board set up a research section which has devoted nearly all of its activities to applied research on control of the State’s many vertebrate pest problems. In the rabbit control area, poisoning has received most attention. The “One-Shot” method of poisoning was developed after years of research. Fumigation is at present being closely studied as is the economics of complete eradication from some areas of the State. Greatest needs in the applied rabbit research field at present are: 1) a selective poison, or poisoning regime, which will not harm stock, and 2) a more complete understanding of the economics of control and eradication. The serious rabbit problem which existed in 1950 has been reduced to very small proportions by organisational development using local research findings. These organisational developments have been implemented by circumvention rather than confrontation.