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Corangamite community helping in war on wild rabbits


A new virus known as RHDV1 K5 will be trialled next year across 15 sites in Corangamite in an effort to significantly reduce rabbit populations and their devastating impact on agricultural production and native ecosystems.


The sites are as follows: Bambra, Batesford, Bellbrae, Birregurra, two sites across the Bellarine Peninsula, Jancourt East via Cobden, Lorne, Mt Duneed, Queenscliff, Rokewood & surrounds, Shelford, Surf Coast Shire Council, Tanbryn and Torquay.

“Australia has a good track record when it comes to the biological control of rabbits. When we first released rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in 1995, populations had multiplied to around 600 million, and we managed to reduce this by 98 per cent in arid areas,” Ms Henderson said.

“This built on the massive reductions achieved in the 1950s from the release of the myxoma virus, which killed more than 85 per cent of Australia’s rabbit population.

“Rabbit populations are on the rise again, however, and a coordinated effort is needed from all levels of government working with researchers, industry and local communities to address this pest problem.

“The release of RHDV1 K5 is part of the Australian Government’s $1.2 million commitment to assist in the research and development of new rabbit controls.”

Areas with high rabbit density were a priority in the site selection process, which aims to achieve maximum coverage and provide the best outcomes through a broader spread of the virus.

“RHDV1 K5 won’t kill every pest rabbit, but it is the best option to address population resistance to existing RHDV strains and tackle this pest problem on a national scale,” Ms Henderson said.

“I ask that local residents remain vigilant by reporting pest sightings to authorities and by recording and mapping rabbit activity in their area using the RabbitScan mobile app, which will be used to monitor the effectiveness of control measures.”

Information entered in the app will provide essential data to land managers undertaking follow up controls once the RHDV1 K5 virus has been released.

RabbitScan can be downloaded from www.rabbitscan.org.au

For more details about the RHD-Boost project, visit the Invasive Animals CRC website www.invasiveanimals.com