The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) along with 17 enthusiastic and eager land managers across the Peel Harvey region released the calicivirus just before Christmas.
In an effort that resembled trying to get the whole family together on Christmas Day, PHBG Officers coordinated the delivery of rabbit pellets that helped interested land managers setup a pre-feeding and monitoring program prior to the distribution of the inoculated pellets.
The Christmas virus
On December the 22nd, the virus was mixed and then delivered to 17 different sites for distribution over the next 24 hours.
“It was an interesting time to be releasing a bio-control agent thats for sure” Teele Hooper-Worrell, the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group’s Communication Officer says ” Some of the landowners were asking for dead rabbits as Christmas presents! Many of the landowners involved with the release had already tried other control options without success.”
This release was the second of two coordinated by the PHBG in the Peel Harvey region in 2017. The release of the RHDV1 K5 strain of the rabbit calicivirus is phase one of a 20 year rabbit biocontrol strategy.
The second release was planned in summer when common vectors, flies and mosquitos, are numerous and effective at spreading the virus. The Calicivirus can be spread up to 4km from an initial release site. If there are dead rabbits at a release site you can help to spread the virus yourself by moving the dead rabbit to a different active rabbit area.
A biocontrol option is not the silver bullet and follow-up is necessary to maintain the control results over a longer period of time. Follow-up actions include fumigation and/or destruction of warrens, and follow up baiting. Studies have shown that these techniques not only remove rabbits entirely from an area but can also avoid re-population for up to 5 years.
Release sites have already started to report dead rabbits from Cardup to Harvey.
Landowners are also actively sharing dead rabbits to enable the further spread of the virus – well, it is the season for giving