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Beyond the Bale : December 2015
34 ON FARM BOOSTING RABBIT BIOCONTROL The approaching roll out, co-funded by AWI, of a strain of rabbit calicivirus new to Australia will boost existing biological control agents that are already in the environment and help woolgrowers increase their productivity. Wild rabbits are Australia’s most widespread and destructive agricultural and environmental vertebrate pest, costing $200 million in lost agricultural production every year and impacting 157 threatened native species. PHOTO: John Schilling The upcoming national roll out in Australia of a naturally occurring overseas strain of rabbit calicivirus called RHDV K5 has been bolstered by the Australian Government’s announcement in August of an additional $1.2 million grant to the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA CRC) to help biocontrol of wild rabbits. The funding complements the $1.7 million funding already provided to the IA CRC by AWI and other industry partners, along with the $6 million in-kind investment by the IA CRC’s research partners, all towards the RHD Boost initiative that is enhancing existing biological control agents. The RHDV K5 release is currently pending Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) approval. Approval is expected in 2015/16, with the proposed release to follow in the autumn of 2016. Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the Government’s additional grant reflected their commitment to supporting a collaborative approach to pest animal management and research. “Effective management of pest animals is critical to productivity and profitability at the farmgate,” Minister Joyce said. “Rabbits cause over $200 million in damage across the country each year, much of that on Australian farms. They actively compete with Australian livestock and – particularly during drought – can strip pastures bare. Just two rabbits per hectare are enough to stop plant regeneration. “The release of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus in 1996-98 reduced populations by more than 50 per cent in some regions of Australia.
In the Shops - March 2016