The City of Kalamunda is complementing the national program in the fight against Australia’s most costly and destructive vertebrate pest, the European Rabbit. After arriving with the First Fleet in the 1800s, the rabbit population began to grow out of control, causing land degradation and competition with native species. With the strategic release of the Rabbit Calicivirus Disease (RCD), the City will soon become one of the numerous government agencies working to reduce this biodiversity threat.
RCD was first released in Australia in 1996 and proved extremely effective, knocking down 90% of the pest rabbit population in some parts of Australia, but it was less effective in cooler, wetter climates and rabbits developed a resistance over time. A global search for a new strain of the virus was sought in 2014, resulting in a Korean strain being determined the most promising in addressing the climate challenges. The strain was released nationally in 2017.
The City will commence a localised rabbit control program in mid-December using RCD, a biological control agent of the European rabbit in Australia. The virus is spread from wild rabbits through mosquitos and other vectors such as fleas and flies. An Australian Government initiative saw the release of a strain of RCD at targeted locations across the country early last year, but a whole of community approach is required to further its effectiveness.
Whilst the virus is specific to the European rabbit and will not affect any other animals, domestic rabbits can contract the virus. Vaccinations are the greatest form of protection and are available to pet owners at local clinics. New recommendations advise pet owners should have their rabbits vaccinated every six months.
Mayor John Giardina urged owners to heed the advice and ensure their rabbit’s vaccinations are up to date.
“Protecting your pet rabbit from RCD is as simple as a visit to your local veterinary clinic. Vaccinations are readily available. If you are unsure or want to know more, the best thing to do is to contact your vet.”
View more information on the rabbit control program here.
Alternatively, contact the City’s Environment Department on 9257 9999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.