A change in funding arrangements and the lack of a budget allocation for rabbit control research has raised concern that Australia will face resurgent rabbit infestations in years to come.
It takes decades of research to develop new biological controls, ensuring they are effective and will only affect rabbits, and to then go through the processes of registering them for release. The main hub for this collaborative research has been the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions. The current phase of their rabbit research program is coming to an end and the Federal Government is moving away from block-funding of major programs to funding individual projects – but no funds have been allocated for new rabbit projects in the near future.
The situation is causing concern from landholders, rabbit control agents and researchers that, as existing bio-controls wane in effectiveness, there will be nothing new to replace them.
Both the move to project-by-project funding and the lack of clarity about future investment are a concern to Rabbit-Free Australia. Stop-start, short-term, piecemeal research isn’t going to deliver the comprehensive programs of effort required for success, and nor will it prove effective in developing and retaining skilled researchers.
For more information, see the article by Marian MacDonald in The Land (31/3/2022).