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Virus spreading is a great way to tackle rabbits

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Sustainable Industries

The RHDV1 strain of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (Calicivirus) was first released in Australia in 1996 to control wild rabbits.

Over time the effectiveness of the virus has been decreasing. To boost the RHDV1 strain’s effectiveness, state and territory governments around Australia released K5, a new naturally occurring variant of RHDV1, in March 2017.

Wheatbelt NRM has been working with farmers across the region to spread the virus through controlled releases across 15 locations in the Wheatbelt in 2018.

Anecdotal reports from several landholders across the Wheatbelt, suggest that rabbits are “rarer than hen’s teeth” following the 2018 release.

Luke, from Trayning, took a break from seeding to jump on the opportunity to control the rabbits on his property with a calicivirus release this May.

Luke’s property is home to a 430-hectare patch of remnant vegetation, which includes the threatened Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt in excellent condition.

Releasing calicivirus will help to protect the eucalypt woodlands from grazing and destruction from rabbits, while also contributing to the farm bottom line.

We will be looking for further sites to release the Calicivirus in Spring, later this year.

If you are interested in undertaking fox, cats or rabbit control on your property please contact Anika Dent at adent@wheatbeltnrm.org.au or 9670 3104 for further information.

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