Optimal weather conditions, with an unseasonably warm winter, have led to an spike in rabbit numbers in Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council team leader biosecurity animal pests Allan Beer said survival rate of rabbits was higher in warmer weather.

"The mortality rate of rabbits is pretty high in a cold wet weather but if you get a mild winter, like we have had this year, the mortality rate is much lower so a lot more rabbits survive."

The exact number is hard to quantify, he said.


"We rely on information from members of the public to give us an indication.

"And it is fair to say we have had a lot more rabbit enquiries than normal this year."

He said the rabbit-prone areas in Hawke's Bay centred around pumice soils, coastal sand dunes and river beds such as the Waipawa, Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri.

"Rabbit populations vary from location to location but can increase rapidly under optimal conditions.

"Parts of Hawke's Bay have had major rabbit problems but mostly attributable to droughts, soil types, land development, pasture fertility, habitat and farming practices."

Under the Regional Pest Management Strategy, rabbits are a landowner responsibility.

"However, Hawke's Bay Regional Council can arrange a free 1.5-hour consultation with our designated rabbit contractor, who can give landowners advice and direction on the best control methods to suit their property."