Setting snares for rabbits is largely a waste of time for pest control. This is because mortality from natural causes will have reduced rabbit numbers to their lowest level by the winter. Up to 90% of young rabbits born during the summer will have died by this time without intervention by man.
In many situations, electric fencing can be more cost effective than control methods that have to be undertaken year after year. Traditionally, permanent wire-netting fences have been used to deny rabbits access to vulnerable areas but more recently, temporary electric fences, either netting or strained-wire systems, have become popular methods of crop protection. When correctly erected and maintained, wire-netting and electric fences can reduce rabbit numbers on protected fields by 85-90%.
Electric netting fences are available in a number of commercial designs. Basically, they all consist of a heavy-duty polythene twine mesh in which the horizontal strands are interwoven with electrically conductive stainless steel wire. To prevent shorting, the steel wires are omitted from the bottom strand. They are between 0.5-0.75m (1′ 8″-2′ 5″) high and are supplied in 25m (82′) or 50m (164′) rolls in which the fence posts are already fitted. This type of fence is very quick and easy to erect and take down.
Both electric fence types must be powered by an energiser capable of producing an output of at least 1 joule when measured into a 500-ohm resistance. Most mains-operated energisers, and the more powerful battery-powered units, have this capability. Batteries should be changed regularly (a fully charged 70 Ah battery will need to be changed every 2-3 weeks). A wide range of energisers is available and users are advised to discuss specific requirements with their supplier. To effectively deter rabbits, it is important to maintain a minimum of 2.5 kV throughout the fence-line. A good earthing system is essential to achieve this. Ideally, as for wire-netting fences, electric fences should be erected to surround fully the area to be protected. If this is not practical a strip fence, which extends at least 150m beyond either end of the problem area, may be used. Prior to erection, a 450- 600mm (1’6″- 2′) wide strip should be mown along the fence line or the vegetation killed off using an approved herbicide. This ensures that the conducting wires are kept clear of vegetation that would otherwise short-circuit the system thereby draining power and reducing effectiveness. The electric netting fence should be checked regularly as there have been reports of hedgehogs getting caught, so be aware of this and consider its use only if other fencing methods are impractical.
Both electric fence types have a useful life of about ten years. Electric fencing is cheaper to purchase and erect than wire-netting.