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New virus strain considered to control rabbits

Western Australia's Department of Agriculture is considering releasing a new strain of virus to control growing rabbit numbers in regional areas.

Department spokeswoman Susan Campell says a rabbit virus was introduced in 1996 and now it is tracking its progress across the state.

"So I guess what we're wanting to do is to have an idea of where the virus is active at the moment and also potentially where versions of a benign form of the virus are also active in the wild so when it does come time to release any new strains, we'll be best placed to ensure any maximum knock-downs of the rabbits in those particular areas," she said.

She says landholders in WA can help the control program by reporting virus-related outbreaks of the pests.

"We're looking for fairly fresh rabbit carcasses to be reported and they'll show no other obvious outward signs of death," she said.

"So things like myxomatosis, if the rabbit's died of 'mixo', they'll have a lot of obvious ulcers around their face and obviously if it's flat and on the side of the road it's road kill so we're not too interested in those either."

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