New rabbit virus strain reducing pest numbers

Posted on: Friday, 17 March 2017 at 9:25:07 AM


CSIRO have scientifically confirmed a dead rabbit found on the outskirts of Canberra has succumbed to the new Korean strain of calicivirus recently released as part of a national pest control program.

On 24 February the virus known as RHDV1 K5, which is a variant of rabbit haemorrhagic disease and only affects rabbits, was released at 600 sites across the country including local sites in Deepdale, Chapman River and White Peak Estate in an effort to reduce the number of feral rabbits.

Three weeks into the program, being jointly delivered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and industry, the City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn is encouraging community members to report any dead rabbits they see so the effectiveness of the disease can be tracked.

“Anyone who comes across a dead rabbit should report it online on the ‘RabbitScan’ on the website,” he said.

“These reports are then used to track the movement of the disease around the country and will help landholders in making future decisions regarding rabbit management.”

Interested members of the community can also watch live updates of the rabbit virus movements through the ‘Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker’, which is located in the ‘Report disease’ function of RabbitScan.

Mayor Van Styn said controlling feral rabbits is essential to supporting revegetation works and preserving natural areas for future generations.

“The Chapman River Wildlife Corridor is one of the few remaining quality stands of remnant vegetation in the area and we need to protect it from these feral animals,” he said.

“Feral rabbits are costly issues for landholders and control of their population is essential to reducing their grazing impact on native vegetation.”

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