Proposed release for new rabbit virus

12 January 2016

The national release of RHDV1-K5 is now likely to take place in 2017 pending approvals. 

The RHDV1-K5 is a national program. Governments have a number of factors to work through prior to release to ensure maximum impact on wild rabbit populations; that the necessary approvals and that affected landholders and community groups are fully informed.

The public consultation period for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) approval process commenced on Tuesday 15 December 2015 and will conclude on Friday 29 January 2016. As this product is a new active constituent, under the requirements of the AgVet Code, APVMA must conduct public consultation before finalising its decision.

Rabbits have major impacts on farming businesses and the environment. A draft report released by the Department of the Environment in late 2015 found that rabbits are a significant threat to biodiversity, affecting 304 nationally threatened plant and animal species. Rabbits also decrease agricultural productivity in excess of $200 million a year. A commitment to sustained and on-going management is imperative.
Rabbit numbers are increasing and an improved biological control agent in conjunction with a community-led response, using best practice rabbit management principles, is a unique opportunity to mitigate this damage. The national release of the new naturally occurring strain of RHDV1 K5 is part of a 20 year national bio-control plan to further control rabbits. The Invasive Animals CRC rabbit scientific committee are confident that RHDV1 K5 is safe, humane, has a wide reach and will reduce the number of feral rabbits in Australia.
The research team are still accepting online Expressions of Interests (EOIs) from landowners and managers wanting to be involved in the release. The research team will strategically select sites mid-2016 and notify successful applicants.
For enquiries regarding rabbit management in your state or territory jurisdiction, please call or email your local land management authority. Details can be found via PestSmart Connect.

Media contact:

Ian McDonald, Communications Manager, Invasive Animals CRC
P: 02 6201 2890 | M: 0429 985 643 | E:

The Invasive Animals CRC is supported by the Australian Government’s Business Cooperative Research Centres Programme.

The ‘RHD Boost’ research initiative has been delivered through the Invasive Animals CRC, with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian government, state governments, and industry and non-government organisations. The partners in this national collaborative project include:

  • Federal Department of Agriculture
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Australian Wool Innovation
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia
  • Victoria Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
  • Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA
  • Department of Agriculture and Food WA
  • University of Adelaide
  • Department of Agriculture and Food Queensland
  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • ACT Government Territory and Municipal Services
  • Parks Victoria

Link: Rabbit biocontrol in Australia: key facts