Healthier Landscapes: boosting rabbit control in Australia

To combat the threat of rabbits within Australia, the national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5 is planned to take place during the first week of March, 2017.

This is the first time in 20 years that a new rabbit biocontrol agent is being released into Australia, however RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a strain of the existing virus already widespread in Australia, commonly known as calicivirus.

More than 600 sites across Australia are involved in the release of RHDV1 K5 and are working closely with Biosecurity Officers in their
regions to ensure the best management outcomes.

Download the RHDV1 K5 Information Guide


Preparing for the release of RHDV1 K5

In preparation for the release, landholders and the community are being asked to lend a hand in developing information about rabbit populations before the release, and in reporting any evidence of disease-affected rabbits in their local area.

Record rabbit activity and control in your local area using RabbitScan

How to conduct spotlight counts at your site
Rabbit counts can be done from a vehicle or on foot using either a handheld spotlight or powerful torch. All counts should be entered into RabbitScan.

How to lay RHDV baits on your site
The below video gives you information regarding the best practice techniques in how to achieve the best uptake of RHDV laced baits on your site.

It is also recommended to view the: 

How to report dead rabbits or evidence of disease?
If you have found a dead rabbit or evidence of rabbit disease in your local area go to the RabbitScan Biocontrol Tracker, or submit a tissue/bone sample for testing.

How to submit a rabbit tissue or bone sample for testing
Once you have submitted your evidence of rabbit disease to the RabbitScan Biocontrol Tracker, it will give you the option of providing us with a tissue sample for further analysis.

If you select yes, you will be required to freeze the rabbit while an analysis kit is being mailed to you. Please read and follow the
sampling instructions documents when the kit arrives.

Undertaking fly trapping (optional extra)
If you would like to collect additional information during the release, you are welcome to collect flies. This is entirely optional. Flies (bush flies and blow flies) are known vectors of RHDV.  We know that there is enough virus in one fly spot to infect and kill a rabbit. To help us understand which RHDVs are already circulating in your area and whether the flies actually pick up RHDV1 K5, collecting flies over the course of the release is an additional activity you can undertake. 

Conventional rabbit control techniques

An integrated and multi-pronged approach to rabbit control is recommended to achieve the best outcome from your management
program. Below are some further examples of control measures you can undertake to enhance rabbit population reductions in your area.

Poison baiting for rabbit control
This is a general video only. Please check with your local authority on any restrictions and requirements regarding the use of 1080 and Pindone in your area.

Rabbit warren fumigation
Fumigation should be undertaken where warrens cannot be ripped, or used as a follow-up tool to treat any re-openings that occur
after ripping. Fumigation on its own is not enough to manage a rabbit population.

Rabbit warren ripping and harbour destruction
Warren ripping should be undertaken when rabbit numbers are at their lowest. For the majority of Australia this is late summer. If
rabbit numbers are high, then a baiting program should be undertaken before any ripping.

Further information

RHD Boost Updates

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