Virus kill rate hits forecasts

An Environment Canterbury analysis of rabbit virus effectiveness shows the kill rate has met council expectations.

Council biosecurity regional leader Graham Sullivan said the virus was now established and an average reduction rate of 40% of the wild rabbit population was a ''significant benefit''.

After releasing the virus at 100 sites in Canterbury, the council monitored 400km and 27 high country stations in the Mackenzie Basin, ''the area with the largest population'', to establish that the expected reduction of 40% had been met.

''This reflects the combined impact of K5 [the new rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease strain, RHDV1 K5], the earlier Czech strain, natural mortality and the traditional control methods we are encouraging farmers to continue,'' Mr Sullivan said. ''On a property basis, the reduction ranged from zero to 70%.''

In Otago, where there were more than 100 release sites, the average rate of population decline was about 34%.


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