In an article titled "Resilient rabbits stay one hop ahead of calicivirus" ,The Australian Newspaper 26th February 1997, David McKenzie wrote:
"Only a quarter of the areas where the rabbit calicivirus has been released are showing any obvious signs of the virus killing off local rabbit populations.
The disappointing result has prompted Minister for Primary Industries, Mr John Anderson, to set up a special monitoring program to find an explanation and work out how to boost the virus effectiveness.
Releasing the latest figures on the spread of the disease yesterday, Mr Anderson
said States and Territories were also gearing up for an "autumn offensive" and looking at using infected baits as well as releasing rabbits injected with the disease.
The updated analysis of the spread of the calicivirus has shown that only 90 of the 350 release sites were showing clear signs of the virus having taken hold among rabbit populations.
At more than half the sites (184), there has been no obvious impact, while no precise assessment could be made at the other 76 sites.
Mr Anderson said the calicivirus had been released in all mainland states and
Territories since its approval as a biological control agent last September.
It was also present in central northern Tasmania, even though it had not been
deliberately released there.
"The rabbit calicivirus is nearly as widespread as rabbits in Eastern Australia," Mr Anderson said.
The calicivirus was having a big impact on rabbits in many areas, with scientists observing a recovery in vegetation and a decline in feral animal numbers as rabbit populations fell away. "However, in many other areas, the rate of spread and persistence of the rabbit calicivirus are less certain," he said.
Data supplied by state and Territory vertebrate pest control agencies shows the calicivirus was having minimal impact in Victoria where only 15 of the 80
release sites were showing obvious signs of virus activity.
Little impact was uncovered in the ACT, where the virus was proving effective
in only one of the Territory's six release sites, and the Northern Territory,
where none of the three release sites were showing much impact.
In NSW, 34 of 124 release sites were showing evidence of obvious viral impact,
while half the 80 sites in Queensland were proving effective. In South Australia, (27 release sites) and Western Australia (30 sites), there was still
no information available.
Mr Anderson said the calicivirus would not by itself eradicate rabbits.
He urged farmers to continue using other control measures."