Study targets rabbit control

ORANGE landholders are keen to take part in a cutting-edge study by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) designed to determine the most effective method of rabbit control.

DPI rabbit researcher Tarnya Cox said landholders were concerned rabbit numbers were increasing at alarming rates.

She is working with the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre on the national RHD-Boost project to enhance the effectiveness of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) in managing the pest.

Dr Cox said since the study was been announced the uptake had been good, with many landholders asking to participate.

“The indications are that the increase has been gradual, but they’re seeing rabbits where they hadn’t seen them since the early 1990s,” she said.

“We have joined with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) to identify rabbit hotspots which are similar to our trial site at Vittoria. It’s important to find a location similar to the Vittoria site, between Orange and Bathurst, to maintain the scientific validity of the trial.

“The initial release of RHDV saw a reduction in rabbit populations across the country, but rabbits have now developed resistance.”

Dr Cox said ideally the study sites would cover more than two hectares and have several warrens.

“Properties with rabbits near sheds and houses can prove difficult for counting and culling,” she said.

Landholders can contact tarnya.cox@dpi. or call 6391 3952.

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