9 August, 2023

Rabbit eradication plans for island

RABBIT eradication plans have been announced by the state government for Deen Maar Island.

By Staff Writer

Rabbit eradication plans for island - feature photo

The island, located eight kilometres south-west of Port Fairy, is culturally significant to Indigenous Victorians for its role in Bunjil creation stories. 

However, rabbits are threatening to cause damage to First Peoples’ spiritual sites and animal habitats. 

The island is also home to the nation’s largest breeding colony of Australian Fur Seals, and it is one of Victoria’s most important seabird breeding sites, hosting colonies of Short-tailed Shearwaters, Little Penguins and Fairy Prions.

There are no other native mammals or amphibians on Deen Maar, and the White’s Skink is the only reptile on the island.

A threat to the successful breeding of native seabird species is the presence of European rabbits, first introduced in the mid-1800s to provide a food source for potential shipwreck survivors.

Rabbits pose a negative impact on the nesting habitats of seabirds by altering vegetation cover and causing widespread erosion as they forage and burrow. 

Reducing rabbit numbers will help improve habitat for seabird nesting on the island, while boosting their long-term breeding success, and strengthening the species’ resilience across the state.

The government, in collaboration with Parks Victoria, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC) and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation (GMTOAC) will support the project through multiple phases across 2023.

“Deen Maar has incredible environmental and cultural values and we’re honoured to partner with Traditional Owners to protect this vital seabird and seal breeding site,” Minister for the Environment Ingrid Stitt said.

“This vital work will ensure Deen Maar Island’s precious biodiversity and First Peoples history remains protected for years to come.” 

According to Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, the island is a culturally significant site and a “special place” for Eastern Maar and Gunditjmara peoples.

Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation and Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation are project partners of the Deen Maar Island Rabbit Eradication Project. 

 Both corporations are supportive of the project and are looking forward to the successful eradication of rabbits from this special place.


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