I am a tad concerned about what is going to happen with the release of this new biological control. As far as I can tell the haste is going to make waste-and all for political points.
Asking volunteers to do the “on ground” delivery is fraught with danger, and delivering dead virus is worse than doing nothing. It can potentially inoculate the target rabbits against future introductions of RHDV.
Delivery of the RHDV must be done in a controlled manner, by trained personnel who are working under well written standard operating procedures. There are two methods of delivery- injection of live virus into live rabbits and releasing them into the same population that you caught them from [quite essential] or delivery on baits; either oats or chopped carrot. Before, during and after the delivery to the rabbits the virus must be treated with much care as it will easily die.
If the virus gets too hot-it will quickly die, so in their responsibility to you, great care has been taken by CSIRO to keep the temperature controlled and stable in transport. It will arrive frozen-if it doesn’t let them know immediately.
If you are going to deliver it via intramuscular injection, take only enough for your daily need and store the balance in a -3 C freezer.
If you are delivering on bait, chill the bait prior to dosing and keep the virus dosed baits cool +3 C is ideal right up to delivery in field.
Place in field on dusk on an evening temperature of <21 C and not at all if the next day is to be over 26 C. These are indicative and ideal and there are hot and cold temperature zones in Victoria [and other states of Australia] where this is not possible.
Also there must be vectors [bush flies-Musca vetustissima are a good vector] in the rabbits environment, if the vectors are low or absent then the program must be re-considered.
If the volunteer army of quazy pest control operators do not consider and maintain every single component of what I have mentioned above and all of the other unmentioned product label requirements then the Victorian release might well fail.
This would render the millions of dollars of Federal investment and thousands of man hours of testing, research, registration etc wasted.
As I said above, delivering a virus dead to the rabbits will only worsen the problem, it will be worse than doing nothing.
And another consideration prior to this 2016 release- what funding has been earmarked for other essential complimentary rabbit management techniques at the time of release?
As all professionals know there must be two or more techniques delivered at the same time, as an integrated program is essential for successful outcomes where rabbits are concerned.
At the time of writing [Christmas eve 2015] I have heard nothing.