This update is part of the Healthier Landscapes campaign: improving the health of our land through integrated rabbit management.
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RHD Boost Update is an initiative of the healthier landscapes campaign, produced by the Invasive Animals CRC to keep you informed about the progress and national release of RHDV1 K5 to boost rabbit biocontrol.

Setting Farmer expectations on RHDV1 K5

The RHD Boost project team and biosecurity officers from the Victorian government have recently been road tripping around Victoria preparing community groups, land managers and farmers for the expected release of RHDV K5, proposed for either Spring 2016 or Autumn 2017, pending approvals.
During their presentations, the team has been reiterating the very important message that the release of this strain of the virus [RHDV1 K5] won’t have the same 90% or more knock down effect, seen in some parts of Australia, as the Czech strain of RHDV1 did when released in 1995.
They are emphasising that a more realistic expectation is a knock down of anywhere between 10-40%, given it is a new strain, rather than a totally new biocontrol agent.
This means that an integrated approach to rabbit management is vital to get the impact required to achieve healthier landscapes and agricultural and environmental benefits.
Find out more about RHDV1 K5 and read the PestSmart Glovebox guide for Managing Rabbits (the guide provides advice on management techniques and tools you can use in conjunction with biocontrol agents to maximise the impact of your rabbit management program).

Image L-R: Dr Tarnya Cox (NSW DPI), John Matthews (VIC DEDJTR), Helen Henderson (PI Landcare), Derek Snowden (BCLN), Sophie Maddigan, Bob (BCLN) and Anna Spiden (3 Creeks LN) - supplied by West Gippsland CMA 

Where to next? The RHD Boost roadshow calendar

Since the beginning of the year, the RHD Boost project team in collaboration with state government agencies have been visiting communities around Australia to let them know how they can get involved in the RHD Boost project. The roadshows aim to provide more information about the proposed release of RHDV1 K5 and how this biocontrol tool can be used to maximise the impact of your current rabbit management programs.
The RHD Boost project team have just finished their roadshow around a large majority of Victoria, which was very well received by community groups and has resulted in many expressions of interest to be involved in the program.
Where are they off to next?

  • QLD: Southern Downs region: 20th of April
  • NSW: Northern Tablelands regions: 11th May
  • WA: 23rd to 27th May

Would you like the project team to visit you?

Simply reply back to this email and we’ll pass on your details to the team. It is important to note that EOIs to be involved as a release site close on the 31st of May, 2016 to allow time for the project team to plan for the release. Please factor this in to any requests for a roadshow in your area.

You can still register interest to be an RHDV1 K5 release site [ Register here... ]

RabbitScan – an essential part of the Rabbit Management Toolbox

The Bellarine region was one of the shires in Victoria to participate in an RHD Boost roadshow. The group are also involved in the Victorian Rabbit Action Network, and have recently received funding through the Small Grants Program, which they are using to drive a community-led response.

Mapping was a key issue in identifying the rabbit problem in the district, and RabbitScan, a free online resource and mobile App, has been key to monitoring the effectiveness of the program. Emma Camilleri, Landcare Facilitator for Bellarine region gave us a summary on how the region is currently using this resource within its rabbit management program.

[ Read the full article here ... ]

[ Start using RabbitScan today ] or search for FeralScan in the iTunes for Google Play App stores.

Federal Parliament passes Amendment to biological control legislation

There is now certainty around the use of viruses in controlling pests, such as the European Rabbit and Carp, after an Amendment to the Biological Control Act 1984 was unanimously passed in record time during the Parliamentary sitting last week.

The Biological Control Amendment Bill 2016 arose out of an ongoing scientific debate as to whether a virus can be classified as an organism and as a living entity. As such, the bill has amended the definition of ‘organism’ to specifically include viruses and subviral agents. It also omits the term ‘live’ from references to agent organisms.

[ Read the full article ... ]

Local solutions provide a spotlight on Australia’s most destructive pest

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in collaboration with the Invasive Animal Cooperative Research Centre are piloting a new initiative in Victoria to improve rabbit management. The initiative is bringing together community, industry and government to support local based solutions through the Victorian Rabbit Action Network (VRAN). 

VRAN are currently piloting a Small Grants Program, investing in ten Victorian communities to support local innovation. One example of a project the VRAN has funded is with the Bellarine Landcare group.

[ Read the full article here ... ]

#BilbiesNotBunnies this Easter

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as vulnerable by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment due to competition and land degradation caused by the European rabbit. It is one of the 304 Australian threatened species listed in draft Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits.

Adjunct Professor Brian Cooke from the University of Canberra and Patron for the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia wrote this interesting piece for the Conversation back in 2013 around why animals define Easter and explains the origins behind the Easter bunny and a moving trend to support the Easter bilby and conserving this unique Australian species.

[ Read the full article here ... ]

Recent online media coverage

Mozzie menace puts the bite on the Central Coast’s feral rabbit plague
Daily Telegraph - February 24, 2016
Fluffy terrors running amok in south west Sydney
Daily Telegraph - February 25, 2016
Sessions to help spread the message
Get Farming - February 26, 2016
Science and innovation vital for Australian farmers
Riverine Herald - March 2, 2016 

Rabbitohs threatened with virus by Barnaby 
Townsville Bulletin - March 3, 2016
Hume rabbit control program under way
Star Weekly - March 7, 2016
Scientists gunning for rabbits with new virus (NZ) - March 16, 2016 

‘K5’ could prove effective rabbit killer (NZ)
Otaga Daily Times - March 17, 2016
Have a question? Visit our RHDV K5: Frequently asked questions page
Copyright © 2015 Invasive Animals CRC

RHD Boost Update is administered by the the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre
Building 22, University of Canberra, University Drive South, BRUCE  ACT  2617
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