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Sessions to help spread the message of rabbit control

A virus that is potentially be the most important advance in rabbit control in the Mallee in 20 years will be the subject of a series of information sessions on March 8-10 2016.

The national release of a new Korean strain of calicivirus, called K5, is expected later this year or early next year – but the clear message from scientists and land managers is that farmers, Landcare groups and communities will hold the key to its success.

The new virus aims to boost the effectiveness of the current strain of Rabbit Haemmoragic Disease (RHDV1), released in 1996.

Mallee CMA’s Landcare Regional Coordinator Kevin Chaplin said the potential of a new control agent was exciting, and had excellent potential for the Mallee, but that biocontrol was not a silver bullet.

“Our previous experience tells us that to maintain good rabbit control we still need to continue conventional methods of baiting, fumigating, warren ripping, exclusion fencing and shooting,” Mr Chaplin said.

“The K5 is a great opportunity to mitigate the huge damage that rabbits are causing us in the Mallee, but we really want to have everyone on board to do it right and have as wide a reach as possible.”

The Mallee CMA Breakfast and Dinner information sessions will be held on March 8, 9 and 10 at Lake Cullulleraine, Ouyen, Murrayville, Hopetoun, Sea Lake and Tooleybuc and the sessions will include expert guest speakers and a meal  for those attending.

A panel of speakers will provide information about the new virus and rabbit control research, as well as answering questions.

They include:

  • Dr Tarnya Cox, Calici Boost Project Leader, Cooperative Research Centre for Invasive Animal Control
  • Ben Perry, DEDJRT on Biosecurity pre Calici Virus K5 release
  • Rian Caccianiga, Mallee CMA on How many rabbits are there?
  • Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA on RabbitScan and Landcare involvement

Mr Chaplin said he hoped the impending release of the new virus would give impetus for renewed effort on rabbit control across the Mallee.

“We know rabbit numbers have been trending up in the Mallee generally, and that we have quite a number of specific hotspots areas where numbers are high,” Mr Chaplin said.

“The release of K5 is a great opportunity for us to deal with those and will be most effective if there is co-ordination of activity between neighbours, including farmers, community groups and conservation land managers,” he said.

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