Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Evaluation of bait stations for control of urban rabbits

Laurie E. Twigg, Garry S. Gray, Marion C. Massam, Tim J. Lowe, Winifred Kirkpatrick, Gerard Bendotti and David R. Chester

Wildlife Research 28(3) 299 - 310
Published: 2001


The acceptability of four different bait station designs (drum, slab, tyre, corrugated iron) to rabbits was tested in the field using unpoisoned oat bait. The drum (200 L, cut longitudinally) and the raised concrete slab (60 × 60 cm) designs were the most acceptable to rabbits. The raised tyre design was unacceptable, and this was supported by later field efficacy trials that compared the drum and tyre designs using 1080 One-shot oats. The efficacy of three of these designs (drum, slab, tyre) against ‘urban’ rabbits was assessed more fully using pindone oat bait. The tyre stations were again found to have little impact on rabbit numbers. With the exception of one drum site where pindone bait stations were totally ineffective, the proportional reductions in rabbit numbers for the remaining sites were similar between the drum (69%, n = 3) and slab (70%, n = 5) designs. However, the slab design provided much easier access to bait by non-target species (particularly birds), and we therefore recommend that the drum design would be the best bait station for controlling rabbits.

The overall proportional reduction in rabbit numbers achieved with pindone bait stations was 48% (range 0–80%, n = 13), which is less than that usually achieved during broadacre control programs with pindone (60–90+%). In addition, these kills took 30–60 days to achieve, and as rabbit damage still occurred over this period, the use of pindone bait stations did not always result in damage mitigation or, ultimately, an economic benefit. Some potential problems associated with the use of pindone bait stations, such as the possibility of the development of ‘resistance’ to pindone bait and the risk to non-target species, are also discussed. The combined use of track counts and a ‘digs’ index proved a reliable indicator of changes in rabbit abundance.


© CSIRO 2001

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