[5 March/The Country]

The new rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease strain, RHDV1 K5 has been approved for release and is a relief for farmers affected by the pest according to Federated Farmers. A high country farmer who represented Federated Farmers on the cross-sector group co-ordinating the K5 initiative, Andrew Simpson, said the timing of this is critical for some areas, and that the ecological damage could be devastating without it. He added that K5 was introduced into Australia last year and reports showed that it had been better than anticipated with some areas achieving up to 80 percent kill rates. It is optimal for the K5 strain to be released among rabbit populations in March and April. Mr Simpson noted that other forms of rabbit control that have been employed for years will still have to be implemented alongside the K5 virus.