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Ferrets and Firearms Campaign on Werribee Park Rabbits

Tuesday 27 August, 2013

The resident rabbits of Werribee Park are under pressure from two very different teams of hunters.

One is a group of Karen refugees who are volunteers at the park, and the other is the Sporting Shooters Association. Using their pet ferrets the young Karen boys have flushed out more than 80 rabbits in the mansion’s historic gardens so far. The shooters, who’ve been working at night, have bagged well over a hundred rabbits from the Rose garden and outer paddocks.  

“Using ferrets is a great way to get rid of the rabbits in our historic garden beds where we certainly can’t use more traditional methods of warren destruction such as blasting the burrows,” says Ranger in Charge James Brincat. “The Sporting Shooters’ approach is also proving very effective; they’re using night vision sights, short range ammunition and getting around in a silent golf buggy so they can sneak up on the rabbits.”

“The combination of these two methods has great potential to really get on top of the rabbit problem, and it’s just before their breeding season,” says Parks Victoria horticulturalist Adam Smith. “They are constantly eating and digging up all our new plants and flowers in the historic garden beds. Poisoning with baited carrots around the mansion is out of the question given the number of visitors we get here, and digging out the burrows in the historic garden beds by hand is very difficult.”

“This campaign will continue in the outer park areas as well as in the formal gardens,” says James Brincat. “We’re backing up the ferreting and shooting with a baiting program in certain areas and always destroying burrows where it’s possible. Our long term aim is to put a very big hole in the population of these destructive animals in our park any way we can.”

A similar joint project is now being planned for the Point Cook Metropolitan Park.

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