Wild rabbit figures dropping

NSW DPI scientist and research director for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, John Tracey and landholder Kevin Edwards are pleased with the results so far.

NSW DPI scientist and research director for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, John Tracey and landholder Kevin Edwards are pleased with the results so far.

According to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), researchers have seen an impressive 42 per cent average reduction in wild rabbit numbers at sites where the new Korean strain of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, RHDV1 K5, was released.

NSW DPI scientist and research director, John Tracey, said RHDV1 K5 has been confirmed to control rabbits across Australia following national release of the virus in the first week of March 2017.

“Laboratory tests showed 66 per cent of all samples collected from dead rabbits had the K5 strain, including samples from NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia,” Dr Tracey said.

“An additional 37 per cent of samples were confirmed to have other RHDV strains.

“Samples and reports, recorded in RabbitScan, www.rabbitscan.org.au and via the free smartphone app are helping us monitor and track the virus.

“With early confirmation that RHDV1 K5 has already spread from at least one release site, we expect the virus to spread further, especially in the cooler, wetter areas of the country.

“The real benefits will be realised in the long-term as the virus continues to spread.

“We’re keeping an eye on how it travels with the help from the community, who are continuing to lead rabbit management on the ground.”

NSW DPI has encouraged land managers to report and record rabbit numbers, activity, warrens, damage and control activities in their local area through RabbitScan.

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