Dumped pet rabbits ravage bush
RABBITS are running wild in the Tweed region.
Tweed Shire Council has reported a dramatic increase in the number of wild rabbits on the Tweed over the past few years.
The cotton-tailed menaces are believed to have been domestic pets.
The influx of domestic rabbits into the environment appears to have come about from rabbits being housed improperly and then escaping, or from rabbits being illegally released by their owners rather than being re-homed or put down.
Tweed Shire Council invasive species officer Pamela Gray said rabbits were one of Australia’s most destructive pests and were well known for their devastating environmental impact.
“It is an offence under the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to liberate a rabbit from captivity. This action can attract a maximum penalty of up to $11,000,” Ms Gray said.
“Rabbits are very difficult and costly to control in and near urban areas.
“Residents’ gardens are being damaged and many of the coastal bush restoration sites are being impacted. We really need people to act responsibly and stop dumping rabbits.”
Ms Gray said if residents were thinking of getting a rabbit as a present, owners needed to factor in the cost of providing proper housing, and that rabbits could live for more than 10 years.
Tweed Heads RSPCA honorary administrator Lesley Haggart said the adoption centre often reached its rabbit housing capacity.
“We don’t have the facility to house the large amount of rabbits which are brought to us each week,” Ms Haggart said.
“I know there is a problem with rabbits in the area. I’m not sure if it is because people are releasing their pets, but they do breed very fast.”
Ms Haggart said the Tweed Heads RSPCA could only house 12 rabbits at a time.
“We have a lot of rabbits ready for adoption and they are fantastic pets,” Ms Haggart said.
“They are desexed and fully vaccinated.
“ We only charge $50 each, which helps to subsidise 30 per cent of the costs.”