Opportunities for farmers with new rabbit RHD strain
10 February 2016
Victorian landowners are encouraged to begin preparing for the arrival of the new calicivirus strain called Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus K5 (referred to as RHDV K5 or simply 'K5'), in spring this year or autumn 2017.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) rabbit specialist John Matthews, said the new strain was a great opportunity for farmers but warned them not to stop their annual conventional control programs targeting rabbits and their warrens.
"K5 is a strain of the existing RHD virus already established and widespread in Australia and is predicted to yield better results in cooler-wetter regions, such as Victoria, where the current strain hasn't been so successful," Mr Matthews said.
"The combination of an improved biological control agent in K5, community-led rabbit management and using best practice rabbit management principles, should provide an opportunity to manage and maintain rabbit numbers at low levels.
"For some, K5 will be seen as a once in a generation opportunity to improve biological control options for rabbits in Australia, however, it's important landholders don't become complacent or hold off on control efforts with the expectation that they will only need to rely on K5 to do the job.
"Landowners should continue with annual rabbit management activities to enable them to take advantage of any effect K5 or the existing biocontrol agents can provide," he said.
Mr Matthews said Victoria has four release and monitoring sites specifically established to investigate the impact of K5 on Victorian rabbit populations in support of the national release strategy.
"These paired sites are located around Avalon, Sunbury, Kerang and Pyramid Hill and communities can also become involved in becoming a release site."
These specific sites complement Victoria's long-term rabbit population monitoring sites, which provide more than 20 years of critical data and analysis of rabbit numbers.
The release of K5 and recent occurrence of RHDV2 in Victoria offer a new opportunity for land-owners to begin a conversation with neighbours with the aim of coordinating integrated rabbit control at a landscape scale and for Landcare groups to get their community involved in rabbit management and monitoring for the disease.
Visit PestSmart to find out how to get involved in the release.
Categorised under: Biosecurity