Let’s Be Hop-tomistc About Rabbit Control

In Australia, no variant of RHDV1 has ever been found to cause infection in any other animal except the European rabbit. Even predatory animals that eat rabbits that have died from RHDV1 do not develop an infection. If you have domestic rabbits it is important to take steps to avoid infection. Information on this can be found at www.vetvoice.com.au/ec/diseases/rabbit-calicivirus
European rabbits are Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pest.

First arriving in Australia with the First Fleet, then deliberately released for hunting in the 1800’s, the rate of spread of the rabbit in Australia was the fastest of any colonising mammal anywhere in the world. They are now found in all states and territories, including several offshore islands.

Regrettably, rabbit control is no easy task and with no ‘silver bullet’ one of the most effective tools for the control of rabbits has been the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) – commonly known as rabbit calicivirus – which was originally released in 1995.

In March of 2017, phase one of a 20 year long-term rabbit biocontrol pipeline strategy was implemented with the national release of a Korean strain of RHDV known as RHDV1 K5.This virus was released at more than 600 sites around Australia in March of 2017 and many release sites have reported seeing an observed decline in rabbit numbers on their property. Preliminary analysis has shown a 42 per cent average reduction in wild rabbit numbers at sites where the new strain was released.

Late spring and autumn are the best times of the year to release the RHDV1 K5 virus and NACC is looking for landholders within the Northern Agricultural Region that would like to participate.

If you would like to be involved or want any more information please contact NACC’s Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator Annabelle Garratt on Annabelle.Garratt@nacc.com.au or 0448 986 879.

Information sourced from PestSmart.

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