THREE workshops are being run to provide landholders with information about integrated rabbit control in the lead up to the release of a new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5.
The RHDVI 5K virus, due to be released in 2017, aims to boost the effectiveness of the current RHDV1 strain that was released in 1996.
The workshops are designed to provide landholders with practical information about rabbit control techniques, and cross property planning that will increase the impact of the virus.
Workshops are being held in Tarwin Lower on August 30, Seaspray on August 31 and Phillip Island on September 1.
See the advertisement this issue for times and locations.
Regional Landcare Facilitator, Sam Shannon said for it to reach its full potential, land managers need to be alert, organised and informed about the release of the virus.
“The workshops will explain how landholders can improve any advantage that RHDV1 K5 may provide in impacting rabbit populations,” Mr Shannon said.
“The K5 strain will not kill every last rabbit in the environment but rather boost the impacts of biological control agents that are already in the environment.
“The release will be most effective if it is coordinated and supported with integrated rabbit management techniques, therefore land managers are encouraged to take advantage and follow up with conventional control to remove remnant rabbits and destroy their warrens.”
Rabbits are Australia’s most destructive agricultural pest animal, costing $200 million in lost agricultural production every year, with a further $6 million expended on rabbit control measures.
Rabbits also impact the environment, with less than one rabbit per hectare, enough to stop the growth of some native species and negatively affect biodiversity, leading to further loss of native flora and fauna.
“The new K5 strain should work better in cool-wet regions where the existing virus has not been so successful,” Mr Shannon said.
“K5 kills more rabbits and is a faster death than the current strain of RHDV.
“This leads to improved animal welfare and humane outcomes, as well as helping to lessen the impacts of rabbits on biodiversity and production.”
Community Weeds Taskforce member and South Gippsland Landcare Network coordinator, Kate McKenzie, said the release of K5 in conjunction with a community-led response, using best practice rabbit management principles, is an opportunity to mitigate rabbit damage and assist manage rabbits to low levels.
“The impending release of the virus is building momentum for landscape scale rabbit control amongst the community,” she said.
“It’s generated significant interest and good-will amongst landholders, particularly in affected coastal areas across Bass Coast and Gippsland, which is fantastic to see.
“Rabbits don’t stop at fences and where K5 reduces rabbit populations, a coordinated community-led response will be required to sustain a long term advantage.
“It’s a response that the strong communities of Bass Coast and South Gippsland are undoubtedly equipped and ready for.”
The workshops are free and include light refreshments.
For further information and to RSVP, contact Sam Shannon on 5613 5978 or sams@wgcma.vic.gov.au.
This project is supported the Community Weeds Task Force, South Gippsland Landcare Network, Yarram Yarram Landcare Network, Bass Coast Landcare Network and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the Victorian Government.