Australia is experiencing one of its worst outbreaks of pest animals with widespread mouse plagues, swelling rabbit numbers due to increased food availability and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) resistance, expanding carp populations post-floods and increasing livestock losses to wild dogs and pigs. Also escalating is public concern for animal welfare and the withdrawal of many chemical control tools around the world.
The impact of this chronic and cross-sectoral threat to our food security by reduced agricultural productivity is estimated at more than $1billion per year. The environmental impact of pest animals is a suite of mammal and bird extinctions, continuing impact on hundreds of threatened species and to act as a major barrier to their efforts to adapt to climate change.
To address this national challenge, the Invasive Animals CRC has been extended to 2017, with Commonwealth CRC Programme funding. This new $72 million, 27-partner collaboration will:
- finalise scientific evaluation of two biocontrol agents: Australia’s first carp biocontrol agent and a new strain to boost the performance of rabbit calicivirus or RHD
- release new products currently in the regulatory pipeline, such as new wild dog, fox and feral pig baits and delivery systems
- build on our work through new innovative research
- enable better uptake of our work by institutions and communities through targeted research into effective community engagement
- enable an orderly transition to a new and sustainable national organisation.
Australia needs a permanent national research institute to continue the discovery and delivery of world-leading controls for invasive animals that are humane, cost efficient and ecologically appropriate. This will transform the Invasive Animals CRC into an enduring organisation, ultimately self-financed and dedicated to innovative and collaborative national research and training. This will avoid exposing Australia’s farmers and land managers to the risk of having inadequate technologies against pest animals to protect our biodiversity assets and long-term food security.