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Rabbit plague infests city

DARK DAYS: Rogue rabbits were seen hopping around during the Goodna floods.
DARK DAYS: Rogue rabbits were seen hopping around during the Goodna floods. Contributed

A RABBIT plague in Ipswich has been blamed on the failure of a 555km fence run by a rabbit board in Warwick that Cr Paul Tully says is not doing its job.

Cr Tully said Ipswich City Council had given more than $1 million to the Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board over the past 15 years to keep rabbits out of Ipswich, but was "getting nothing for it".

The fence stretches from Mt Gipps in Lamington National Park to Goombi in Queensland's south-west, where it connects to the wild dog barrier fence. It was built to keep rabbits out of Queensland.

Ipswich City Council now pays $69,370 a year to the rabbit board for its services.

"Ipswich people are paying a king's ransom to rabbit-proof the city, but it is not being rabbit-proofed," Cr Tully said.

"We now have several infestations in Ipswich. There have been rabbits spotted around the Bremer River, Brassall and North Ipswich.

"Rabbits can destroy vegetation and have denuded large tracts of land. They are a real problem.

"But the rabbit board is doing bugger all for the urban areas of south-east Queensland. Over the last 15 years we would have paid over $1 million and we should be getting value for money.

"The rabbit board is based in a house in Warwick that has been converted into an office.

"They take our money, but we get nothing for it."

Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board chairman Rodney Towner disputed Cr Tully's claims and insisted the fence did its job.

"Rabbits don't hop more than 70km in their life cycle, so the rabbits in Ipswich are not coming from the rabbit fence," he said.

"They do have rabbits in Ipswich, but a lot of them have been released by people who have kept them as pets. I know that rabbits have been coming down from the north, rather than the south where the fence is.

"Dr David Berman has done tests on the NSW side, or what we call the dirty side of the fence, and there are 28 to 40 rabbits per kilometre on that side of the fence. That is opposed to one rabbit per kilometre on the Queensland side of the fence. I think that tells you statistically that the fence works."

Cr Tully said the issue of how far rabbits go in a lifetime raised another question.

"If rabbits only travel 70km, then what are we paying them for anyway?" he said.

Cr Tully said it was unlikely large numbers of rabbits had been let loose by the public.

"Only magicians, zookeepers and people undergoing scientific experiments can get permits to keep rabbits," he said.

Mr Towner conceded there were problems with rabbits at the Amberley Air Force Base, that they destroyed agriculture, horticulture and "undermine historic buildings, get into recreational fields, race tracks and golf courses". He will attend the council of mayors meeting in Fernvale on Monday where he will discuss what his board is doing to protect the region from rabbits.

"If Cr Tully is not doing anything on Monday, then maybe he can come along and get answers to some of his questions," he said.

HOP TO IT

  •  Rabbits reached Queensland in the 1880s.
  •  They cause millions of dollars worth of damge to crops.
  •  ICC pays the rabbit board $69,370 a year.

Topics:  darling downs, paul tully, pests, rabbit plague


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