RABBITS are a declared pest in Queensland and cannot be kept as pets, a Toowoomba magistrate has reminded the community.
Magistrate Bruce Schemioneck made the remarks when sentencing two people found to have kept a pet rabbit at a residence in Newtown.
Colin Ronald William Clark, 44, and Tammy Ann Staples, 36, were not in court but Mr Schemioneck accepted their pleas of guilty to the charge of "keeping a declared pest" through their solicitor Sarah Gordon.
The court heard the pair told police they had found the rabbit at the side of the road during a trip to New South Wales and had brought it back to Toowoomba for a pet for their children.
Ms Gordon said her clients hadn't realised it was against the law to keep a rabbit as a pet.
Neither of her clients had any previous criminal convictions.
Police had gone to the home on October 8, last year, and seized the rabbit which was taken to a veterinary clinic, the court heard.
Mr Schemioneck fined each of the defendants $800, but ordered the conviction not be recorded.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Biosecurity Queensland: "Rabbits are Australia's most destructive agricultural and environmental introduced animal pest, costing up to $1 billion annually.
"They cause severe land degradation and soil erosion and threaten the survival of many rare and endangered native species.
"Queensland is the only state to keep an area free of rabbits by maintaining a rabbit-proof fence and controlling rabbit populations in the area."
What do I do if I have a pet rabbit?
Do not release your rabbit into the wild. You can:
- surrender it to your local government office;
- surrender it to Department of Agriculture office (call 13 25 23);
- contact Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board to it to be collected
Further information is available at biosecurity.qld.gov.au
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