Combating a rabbit infestation is turning into “mission impossible” for Barry Padgham and many of his neighbours.
The Illowa landowner says he has tried everything to combat the “literally hundreds” of rabbits that are running riot on his block, but a lack of government leadership and enforcement to make a real impact.
“When we moved into the area nearly seven years ago we hardly saw a rabbit, now we’ve got borrows everywhere. It’s almost mission impossible to get rid of it,” he said.
“Those burrows are not just below the surface, they are big, deep burrows.”
Mr Padgham said there were already laws in place around enforcing landholders to control pests on their land, but not enough was being done to enforce them.
He said he had approached all the MPs in the region, as well as the council and government departments about the issue.
“Not one department will put their hand up and take control of it,” he said.
“No one wants to take ownership of that problem. They’re all saying Victoria has a rabbit infestation issue and basically work together as a community and get your neighbours on side, but unfortunately not all your neighbours want to do anything about it.
“They can enforce them to do something about it, but it’s not happening. It’s not being followed through at the regulatory level.”
Mr Padgham has cautiously welcomed a state Opposition election pledge to spend $6.88 million over four years on a new weed and pest animal taskforce, if elected.
“They are talking about a new policy on weed and pest control, which is needed there is absolutely no doubt about that, but what’s also needed is for someone to put their hand up and take on the issue and follow it through,” he said.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the taskforce would be established in Agriculture Victoria to help carry out more property inspections and strengthen compliance with weed and pest control laws.
He was unsure how many new inspectors the pest animal taskforce would create.
Mr Walsh said too often landowners doing the right thing to control weeds and pests were undermined by “recalcitrant neighbours” who were flouting the laws.
“Weeds and pests like rabbits can severely impact on productivity so it is critical that we do everything we can to support farmers, because profitable farm businesses are critical for local economies and jobs throughout regional Victoria,” he said.