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Progress for new rabbit control measures

Editorial
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The Federal Government has announced the approval of a new strain of rabbit calicivirus that will strengthen Australia's ability to manage wild rabbits.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, welcomed the approval of the new RHDV K5 strain, which will ensure its eventual roll out.

“This is a significant step towards having another tool to combat Australia’s most costly vertebrate pest animal, which causes our farmers an estimated $206 million in losses,” Minister Joyce said.

"Effective long-term management of rabbits is a national priority, and critical to improved productivity and increased farmgate profits.

“Traditional methods of rabbit control, such as shooting and poisoning, have a limited impact at a national level. Biological control agents like myxomatosis and calicivirus are modern approaches that are proven to work on a large scale.

“RHDV K5 is a naturally occurring overseas strain of rabbit calicivirus that Australian rabbits don’t have resistance to—and the government, together with industry, research organisations and state and territory governments, has invested in its development and proposed roll out.

“We can now take the next steps to support the future roll out of the K5 strain, including undertaking the research that will give us a better understanding of the impacts of the current RHDV2 strain and the new K5 strain once it is released.

“Tackling these issues is an important part of the Australian Government’s $50 million Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative to improve pest animal management through on-ground action and research.”

The K5 strain has been carefully assessed by government and industry and the APVMA has formally approved the strain for registration in Australia as a restricted chemical product. This follows a comprehensive assessment process, including public consultation. 

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