HINDMARSH Shire councillors have complained about rabbits taking over Dimboola.
East ward councillor Tony Schneider told the shire council’s latest meeting that wild rabbits were a real problem in the town.
“On the river?” asked council infrastructure services director Douglas Gowans.
“Down the street,” Cr Schneider responded.
He said council needed to raise the community’s awareness about rabbit control on private property, because some of the problem had originated there.
“They might not know who to contact,” he said.
Cr Schneider said it was not unusual to see rabbits bouncing along the roadsides.
“They play around in the middle of the day,” he said.
Council’s previous public information efforts about rabbit control had focused on the farming community’s pest control tactics.
But councillors suggested they might need to consider warning signs about vermin in the main street if the problem persisted.
Mr Gowans said the Department of Environment and Primary Industries was the responsible State Government body for rabbit control.
“The issue is going to be around whether there is funding to be able to do anything within the township, as opposed to just giving information on how best to control them,” he said.
Cr Ron Lowe said he had encountered rabbits several times while driving to Jeparit.
“The rabbits are winning,” he said.
Roadside management and pest control are issues councils across Victoria have been forced to consider after the State Government delegated some responsibility for the role.
Mayor Rob Gersch said there had been great discussion within Hindmarsh Shire Council, and councils throughout the Wimmera, about who was responsible for roadside management.
“The government in their wisdom has hand-balled that responsibility to local government,” he said.
Cr Gersch said the State Government had granted council $50,000 a year for the next three years for roadside management.
“That wouldn’t even pay a person’s wages, let alone allow them to get out there and do the work,” he said.
He said it was yet another issue local government had been asked to take on board.
Cr Gersch said Hindmarsh Shire Council had more than 3000 kilometres of road to maintain.
While he said the council was capable of handling the job, it would be a costly imposition.
“Council is quite happy to take on some of these responsibilities as long as we obtain funding for it,” he said.
“If not, it has to come out of ratepayers’ pockets – council is not in a position to finance these extra burdens.”
Cr Gersch said council was working in partnership with Hindmarsh Landcare Network to make sure the project was done to the best of their ability.
But he said a plan of action was yet to be finalised.
West Wimmera Shire Council is also concerned about the amount of money allocated to kill roadside weeds.
Cr Warren Wait said he was concerned by the amount of cape tulip infesting roadsides.
Infrastructure general manager Robyn Evans said the job was too big to be completed with the amount of money allocated.
“It is clear the job can’t be done – we can’t knock out every single weed, and hit every road, it’s not possible,” she said.
She said State Government cuts to Landcare groups also meant there could be a problem with finding people to manage the weeds.