The ACT Government is conducting rabbit control operations in Canberra. Fumigation of warrens is planned from 12 April 2021 for “several days”.
Fumigation is with Phosphene gas, liberated from Aluminium Phosphine tablets placed directly into the warrens. Rabbits will likely be encouraged into the warrens via noise (people and dogs). The gas is highly toxic and but disperses quickly -a dog or cat could be affected if they entered a warren or were close to and downwind of a warren at the time of gas release. In practice, risks are very low. Fumigation will occur near the Amaroo playing fields in Moncrieff, near Fretwell Street and Malton View, in a naturalised, hilly landscape.
The anti-coagulant bait Pindone is also being released in Mt Ainslie, Percival Hill and Duntroon Dairy. Percival Hill Nature Reserve is the area bounded by the Barton Highway, Gundaroo Drive, and Temperley Street in Nicholls, and the Gungahlin Pond.
Pindone has the same method of action as almost all mouse and rat baits -it causes bleeding by interfering with blood clotting. The bait is typically carrot. As an older example of these poisons, poisoning of rabbits requires consumption over several days (rather than a single meal), and the same is almost certainly true for dogs and cats. Clearly, carrots are not a very attractive meal for most dogs and cats, but a risk does exist. Secondary poisoning is also possible for dogs, cats and predatory wild animals and birds that consume the carcasses of poisoned rabbits, but, again, at least for dogs and cats, consumption over several days is likely necessary.
There will be no signs to suggestion poisoning after the bait or dead rabbit is consumed. Anticoagulant poisons typically cause signs after some days, including
• Pale gums
• Pain if bleeding occurs into a joint
• Increased rate and effort of breathing if bleeding occurs into the chest cavity
If you suspect your pet may be affected, seek a veterinary consultation as soon as possible. This form of poisoning is not uncommon in dogs (and sometimes cats) and is almost always due to eating rat or mouse baits laid in or around the house for rodent control. Treatment is the same regardless of the source of the poison, relying on the administration of Vitamin K, after decontamination and stabilisation of the patient. Given the mouse plagues in areas of Australia at the moment, a far greater risk exists to Canberra pets if you or a neighbour is using rat or mouse baits.
Clearly pet animals should not be allowed access to the areas being fumigated, nor to those areas where Pindone is big applied. Dogs should be walked on lead and prevented form consuming anything from the ground.
More information about rabbit control is available here https://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/715010/Best-Practice-Management-Guide-for-Rabbits-in-the-ACT.pdf