Maximising the potential of improved biological control for rabbits

Lead researcher: Dr Susan Campbell, Department of Agriculture and Food WA,  scampbell@agric.wa.gov.au

In response to a recent rise in rabbit numbers throughout eastern Australia, a national Caring for our Country Program, RHD-Boost, was developed (now funded by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre). This project aims to identify, test and release a more virulent strain(s) of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) into rabbit populations throughout Australia in ~2015/16. This RHD-Boost project provided the impetus for the current research in Western Australia (WA), funded by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Australian Pest Animal Research Program.

Prior to RHDV, rabbit numbers were very high in WA, with several hundred rabbits per kilometre in the 80s and early 90s recorded at sites along the south coast. Although the effects of RHDV were variable in WA, post-RHDV numbers of rabbits are lower than the plagues recorded in the 1980s. Through the current project “Maximising the potential of improved biological control for rabbits”, we aimed to collect current information on the abundance of rabbits at select sites in WA. Specifically, our objectives were to:

  1. Re-establish systematic rabbit monitoring in WA.
  2. Monitor rabbit abundance and serological status to RHDV and RCV-A1 over time.
  3. Engage landholders and community organisations in on-going rabbit monitoring.
  4. Maintain collaborations to deliver strategic rabbit management in WA.

This project was funded under the Australian Pest Animal Research Program (APARP).
For more APARP projects, visit: www.pestsmart.org.au/australian-pest-animal-research-program/

Author Australian Pest Animal Research Program (APARP)
Secondary Author Susan Campbell and Carlo Pacioni
Year 2014
Institution Department of Agriculture and Food WA
Control method Biological Control
Region WA
Documents

Download full report: Maximising the potential of improved biological control for rabbits [ 1.5Mb PDF ]

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