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Southwest ecological burns important for orange-bellied parrot conservation


Planned ecological burns in Southwest National Park will help regenerate important habitat areas for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot.More

Upgraded Julius River bridges improve visitor access


Bridge upgrades at the Julius River Regional Reserve are now complete.More

Viewing platform upgrades for Rocky Cape's Aboriginal heritage sites


Two viewing platforms have been replaced as part of visitor facility improvements at Rocky Cape National Park on the North-West Coast. The platforms are at the Lee Archer Cave and South Cave sites, which have highly significant Aboriginal heritage values.More

The great rabbit hunt is on!


Macquarie Island, once overrun with rabbits, is experiencing a remarkable change following the completion of aerial baiting last month.

While rabbit numbers had dropped dramatically before the baiting began as a result of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) being introduced to the island’s rabbit population in February 2011, the further reduction in rabbit numbers following baiting was massive.

Since the completion of aerial baiting, six rabbits have been located and accounted for. Another two sightings are still to be followed up. Hunting teams are equipped with firearms, traps, burrow fumigants and a range of detection devices to assist in locating surviving rabbits.

The phase of hunting surviving rabbits is under way with the hunters, dog handlers and their 12 dogs trained specifically for the project since 2008, now combing the island. There are two hunters in each of six blocks of roughly 1,000 hectares each.

Project manager Keith Springer described the preliminary results as ‘extremely encouraging’.

“Although it is still winter, the massive reduction in rabbit numbers (from a population estimated at over 100,000) has already resulted in a release of grazing pressure. Tussocks and megaherbs are beginning to grow, without being grazed down as soon as new shoots emerge. Some slopes are becoming noticeably greener and the coming growing season should see a proliferation of new growth, while burrowing seabird species and invertebrates are expected to respond rapidly in the absence of a rat predation,” he said.

Hunting teams are expected to be deployed annually to the island for several years to search for surviving rabbits.

The great rabbit hunt is on!

Dog handlers (left to right) Jack Bauer, Jane Tansell, Sandy King, Melissa Houghton, Gary Bowcock and Nancye Williams.

The great rabbit hunt is on!

Nancye Williams with Katie and Fin.

The great rabbit hunt is on!

Windy Ridge is one of the 10 field huts that will be used by the hunters and dog handlers.

The great rabbit hunt is on!

Tama the terrier gets a ride home from the field the easy way.

The great rabbit hunt is on!

Pilots and helicopter support staff (from left) Mike Hurley, Brian Beck, Denis Browne, John Oakes, Wayne Terry, Jeremy Dyer, Bryan Paterson and Fletcher Anderson.