Canterbury Regional Council has applied for a consent to drop 1080 poison across the region to kill rabbits which it says are getting out of control.
Numbers in the South Island are believed to be reaching the levels they were at before calicivirus (RHD) was introduced in 1997.
Rabbits destroy land mainly by eating the vegetation that is critical in maintaining soil stability.
Canterbury Regional Council says some areas have 80-100 rabbits per km.
Southern biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth told Nine to Noon there is no alternative to the widespread use of 1080.
Lincoln University wildlife management professor Charles Eason supports the use of the poison, but is studying alternatives.
He says zinc phosphide, which is used in the United States and Australia, is a possibility. It is going through its final stages of registration here.