Context . European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are reaching plague proportions again in some parts of New Zealand as the effect of rabbit haemorrhagic disease begins to wane. Effective monitoring techniques are required to quantify the success of alternative methods of controlling rabbits, such as poisoning.
Aim . To evaluate camera traps as a method of estimating the percentage of rabbits killed in a poison control operation, and to compare results obtained from cameras with those from traditional monitoring methods (spotlight transects and vantage-point counts).
Methods . We deployed cameras and conducted vantage-point counts and spotlight transects to compare a priori statistical power. We then used these monitoring methods to estimate percentage kill from a case study rabbit-control operation using sodium fluoroacetate (compound 1080).
Key results . Cameras had good statistical power to detect large reductions in rabbit numbers (>90%) and the percentage kill estimated using cameras was comparable with spotlight transects and vantage-point counts.
Conclusions . Cameras set up at fixed sampling locations can be an effective method of quantitatively assessing rabbit population control outcomes. We recommend that ≥6 cameras per 100 ha should remain active for at least 5 days before and 5 days following control, so as to obtain reliable estimates of percentage kill.
Implications . Cameras may be preferable to conventional monitoring methods where there is insufficient area to walk or drive transects, terrain is too rugged or scrubby for transects, and there are no or few vantage points from which to count rabbits.