Kinder way to ferret out feral rabbit pests in Mid West

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Callum Battilana says he is the only regular vermin controller using ferrets in the Mid West.
Camera IconCallum Battilana says he is the only regular vermin controller using ferrets in the Mid West. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

A 30-year-old Geraldton man believes he is the only rabbit controller in the Mid West who uses ferrets.

“This has been around since Roman times, so it’s pretty effective,” Callum Battilana said.

Mr Battilana said ferreting was more humane and kinder to the environment than baiting or trapping, which also killed native birds and animals.

He said ferrets latched on to the back of the animal’s neck with their sharp teeth and powerful jaws, quickly severing the spine and killing the animal.

For this reason, he said ferreting was a more humane practice than traps or poison which left rabbits to die agonising deaths.

Callum Battilana said he grew attached to his ferrets but they were hunting animals, not pets.
Camera IconCallum Battilana said he grew attached to his ferrets but they were hunting animals, not pets. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Battilana said he sold the skins online, often to craft workers and costume makers, and wasted no part of the carcass as his two hunting dogs ate the meat.

“Every piece gets eaten because dogs love to eat fur, all the internal organs and heads and feet, the dogs eat all that,” he said.

Mr Battilana said depressed prices made it too difficult to sell the meat for human consumption but rabbit carcasses were imported from South Australia and sold as game meat.

“This is kind of a shame because in New Zealand and the UK they call it a free-range organic meat,” he said.

However he said he was able to contract for vermin control using his two trained ferrets.

The Guardian accompanied Mr Battilana to a Waggrakine property as he erected a netting barrier around a rabbit warren to stop fleeing rabbits.

Callum Batillana begins by surrounding a rabbit warren with nets to catch any fleeing rabbits.
Camera IconCallum Batillana begins by surrounding a rabbit warren with nets to catch any fleeing rabbits. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

He placed specially constructed tunnel traps in most of the burrow openings, and fitted his two ferrets with radio tracking devices in case he had to locate them underground and dig them out.

Mr Battilana then released his two ferrets and together with his two small dogs they flushed out a full-grown male rabbit which one of the ferrets quickly killed.

He said his ferrets were not really pets.

“You are pretty attached to them but I don’t cuddle them and have them in my bed and stuff,” he said.

Mr Battilana can be contacted via his Facebook site Banksia Rabbit Control.

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