Saturday, March 18, 2017

Calicivirus Unleashed on Australian Rabbits

Australia has been plagued with an overpopulation of feral rabbits for years. The pests have reduced Australia's agricultural productivity by over 200 million dollars every year. The rabbits also threaten 304 native species. 

To combat the impact of rabbits, the Landholders, Local Land Services, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries will be collaborating to release a new strain of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus across the Murray region. The strain is called RHDV1 K5 virus, and is a strain of calicivirus. It is the first time in 20 years that a new biocontrol agent against rabbits has been used in Australia. 

Previously, rabbit hemorrhagic viruses have resulted in 90% reduction of the rabbit populations. This time is expected to have less dramatic of an impact, but will boost current management of the population and slow down increases in numbers. 

-Anne Sommer

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