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|1788||Domesticated rabbits arrive with convicts on the first fleet.|
|1827||Feral rabbit population first reported in Tasmania.|
|1859||Twenty-four rabbits released for hunting purposes at Thomas Austin’s Victorian property Barwon Park. Escaped enclosures after a fire.|
|1886||Feral rabbit populations reach the New South Wales and Queensland borders.|
|1900s||The world’s largest rabbit proof fence (1700km) erected to keep rabbits out of Western Australia.|
|1910s||Rabbits have spread across most of Australia.|
|1920s||It is estimated that there are up to 10 billion feral rabbits in Australia.|
|1930s||Australian government pushes bounty hunting and poisoning to control rabbits, to no avail.|
|1950s||Myxoma virus (Myxomatosis) is released to control the feral rabbit population.|
|1970s||Feral rabbit numbers increase as populations develop resistance to Myxomatosis.|
|1996||Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1) released to further control the feral rabbit population.|
|2009||Natural strain of calicivirus (RCV-A1) found which causes resistance to RHDV.|
|2016||Researchers working on new tools to manage rabbits in Australia.|
|2017||Imported Korean strain of RHDV1 (K5) set to be released.|
Myxoma virus: Trialled by the CSIRO in the late 1930’s and 40s. It was released into the feral rabbit population in the 1950s and spread predominately by fleas and mosquitoes. Within months it knocked over 90% of some rabbit populations but became less effective over time due to developing genetic resistance in the rabbits. Today it affects an estimated 40-50% of the rabbit population.
RHDV: Trialled by the CSIRO in the early 1990s and released into the feral rabbit population in 1996. It initially knocked down 90% of the feral rabbit population but was less effective in cooler climates. Immunity and again resistance have become an issue.
RHDV2: Found in Australia in May 2015, RHDV2 is a variant of RHDV that was not released but has been detected in Europe and now Australia and may cause deaths to European rabbits. If RHDV2 is highly virulent it could potentially benefit rabbit biocontrol efforts within Australia3.
The authors of these documents have taken care to validate the accuracy of the information at the time of writing. This information has been prepared with care but it is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, to the extent permitted by law. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions the authors work for or those who funded the creation of this document.
Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, 2015. Key facts about rabbit biocontrol in Australia. Factsheet. PestSmart website. https://pestsmart.org.au/toolkit-resource/key-facts-about-rabbit-biocontrol-in-australia accessed 16-10-2021