Feral rabbits and hares

(Oryctolagus cuniculus and Lepus europaeus)

Containment Pests

Rabbits were first introduced by European settlers for food. Rabbits quickly became pests throughout the country. Hares were released in the mid-1800s for game. They are largely solitary, generally nocturnal and tend to range over large areas.

Reasons for the Strategy

Feral Rabbits damage crops and pasture. Feral Hares damage young trees in plantation Feral rabbit.  forests, and crops and oversown pasture. Both Feral Rabbits and Hares have a detrimental impact on economic production and increase the risk of soil erosion.

Feral Rabbits and Hares are assessed at “8” on the infestation curve. Given their widespread distribution, the best option is to provide advice to land occupiers on the control of Feral Rabbits and Hares. Assistance to land occupiers will include instruction in the field on control techniques. Extensive areas of suitable habitat, and the potential for them to cause significant adverse effects, mean the benefits of containment control far outweigh the costs.


To address the adverse effects of Feral Rabbits and Hares in the Tasman-Nelson region during the term of the Strategy.

Alternative Measures

The principal alternative measure is to adopt a greater level of regional intervention, such as Feral hare.  requiring land occupiers to control Feral Rabbits and Hares. This option was rejected, as the cost of monitoring and enforcing such a requirement across the whole region would outweigh the benefit to the region, given that the principal benefit of Feral Rabbit and Hare control accrues to the individual land occupiers carrying out the control.

Strategy Rule for Feral Rabbits and Hares

The Management Agency will promote and encourage control.

Biosecurity Act Requirement

No person shall knowingly sell, propagate, breed, release, or commercially display Feral Rabbits and Hares, under Sections 52 and 53 of the Act.