Shooters called in as rabbits plague Parliament House

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Riley Gibon-rabbit approach

The term "unconscious disconnect" comes to mind when the Federal Government calls on shooters to reduce rabbit numbers around Parliament House, as Australian governments, in general, are generally harsh in their treatment of the most law-abiding sector (LAFOs) of the broader population. It is reported that in this instance the professional shooters spot the rabbits with thermal imaging and use air rifles. The carcasses are then given to the local zoo.

The ABC reported the National Capital Authority (NCA) have chosen shooting as they believe the poisons could flow onto the local predatory birds of the area as rabbits are part of their natural diet.

NCA chief executive Sally Barnes said her agency was working with the ACT government to manage their numbers.

"Rabbits are always an issue for us," she told the committee.

"Our preference is not to use poisons … we know that, for some of the larger birds in Canberra, rabbits are their natural diet.

"In fact, I've seen raptors swoop twice and pick up kittens [baby rabbits] from Kings Park and take them away to nests."

Ms Barnes said the reluctance to use poison limited her agency's options.

"We do some targeted shooting in some places," she said.

"We've got to be very careful about that … we have to keep on it."

Rabbits have long plagued central Canberra, particularly near Lake Burley Griffin, but their populations have noticeably increased during the wet La Niña weather cycle.

West Australian senator Matt O'Sullivan told the hearing he was shocked by their numbers when he was last in the national capital.

"I rode around the lake and almost collected one on … Dairy Flat Road," he said.

"They are certainly feasting on something because they're the biggest rabbits I've ever seen."

Shooting to control feral animals in Australia is one of the most efficient control measures available. The sooner the Government stops treating recreational LAFOs like criminals and utilises them in public land control situations, the better, both for the environment and for the taxpayer.

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