Ferrets, and more so rabbits, are cropping up a lot more in the Otago Daily Times of late. One can only assume it’s because there is a lot more of the later appearing in the last few years. Reporter Mark Price got in touch a few days ago wanting to do a piece on using ferrets as a form of rabbit control, so out we went with all the gear plus a photographer from the ODT Craig Baxter.
A critical part of owning land, from the holiday home in Ida Valley through to the big stations is having a good rabbit control plan in place, or Pest Management Plan. Everyone hates spending money on them, but they are here and have to be controlled. It might be something very simple/basic or it might have to be relatively detailed, that depends on a series of factors including the numbers involved, type of country etc.
With every property being different, they each require some thoughtful planning to get the most benefit from any program put in place. This is why an individual plan is needed and should be stuck to with maybe a six monthly to annual review to check and make sure everything is working for you and your property and if needed adjustments to the plan should be made. This of course can happen throughout the year, like if a hotspot appears. Obviously there is then a plan change and the problem area dealt with.
A good way to do this might be as simple as doing your own monitoring, driving around the property once every month or two with a spotlight to see what is happening and whether the numbers are under the required Modified McLean Scale 3 (MMS 3, you can see the scale here), or if it is feasible to get them well below that. Anything over the MMS 3 and work pretty much has to be done, if you don’t then expect a letter from the local regional council with a compliance notice which always involves poison if left to the council to organize. Their preferred method even in this day and age.
A big thing to remember here is the lower the rabbit numbers are the cheaper it is to do control, but somewhere in there is a big multiplier. The more rabbits there is the longer it takes to do an area, but also ammunition costs go a way up.
One of the easiest thing’s to understand is rabbits hate long grass. They don’t like to feed or live in it. Long grass when wet causes a lot of health problems so is in essence it’s own form of control. So the lower the rabbit numbers, the longer the grass….