Field days a time for re­flec­tion

AgLife - - News -

The Wim­mera Machin­ery Field Days pro­vides the farm­ing com­mu­nity with an oc­ca­sion to re­flect on the sea­son that has been, and crit­i­cally, the sea­son that lays ahead.

This year when the ru­ral com­mu­nity walks through the gates at Wim­mera Events Cen­tre at Lon­gerenong it will also be con­sid­er­ing how much of an im­pact a re­lease of a new strain of cali­civirus will have on rab­bits in the re­gion.

The na­tional re­lease of RHDV1 K5, a vari­ant of a virus al­ready es­tab­lished and wide­spread across Aus­tralia, is hap­pen­ing to­day, and rep­re­sents yet another mile­stone in the coun­try’s never-end­ing war against the vir­u­lent pest.

As part of the na­tion­ally co-or­di­nated re­lease, landown­ers work­ing with Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria will re­lease RHDV1 K5 at 150 sites across Vic­to­ria.

Pest rab­bits are Aus­tralia’s most de­struc­tive agri­cul­tural pest an­i­mal, cost­ing $200-mil­lion in lost agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion ev­ery year, with a fur­ther $6-mil­lion spent on rab­bit-con­trol mea­sures.

Pest rab­bits also im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment.

A Threat Abate­ment Plan re­leased by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy in Jan­uary found pest rab­bits were a sig­nif­i­cant threat to bio­di­ver­sity, af­fect­ing 304 na­tion­ally threat­ened plant and an­i­mal species.

Pest rab­bits are not only a re­gional is­sue, with the pests show­ing up in many ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments such as sports grounds, gar­dens, along ease­ments, ur­banised ri­par­ian ar­eas and ur­ban rem­nant bush­land ar­eas. While farm­ers and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists ap­plaud the re­lease of the deadly new virus strain, Vic­to­ria’s act­ing chief vet­eri­nary of­fi­cer Dr Cameron Bell has re­minded com­mer­cial rab­bit farm­ers and pet rab­bit own­ers to make sure their an­i­mals are vac­ci­nated against the dis­ease.

Dr Bell said the cur­rent cali­civirus vac­cine ad­min­is­tered by vets was ex­pected to pro­vide pro­tec­tion of com­mer­cial and pet rab­bits against all strains of cali­civirus.

The orig­i­nal re­lease of cali­civirus in 1995 had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on Aus­tralia’s wild rab­bit pop­u­la­tion.

Sci­en­tists ex­pect re­sults from to­day’s re­lease to be less dra­matic and be sim­ply part of an over­all man­age­ment strat­egy for the pest.

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