NEW viruses are the key to wiping out rabbits, research has shown.
The Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre announced last week government funding had allowed it to continue its rabbit eradication program until 2017, and develop new strains of calicivirus that would evade resistance.
The centre is involved in several projects to assess and promote the continuing effectiveness of calicivirus, also known as rabbit haemorrhagic disease.
Research program leader Glenn Saunders said the program, called HD Boost, centred around accelerating generations of calicivirus so it remained virulent, overcoming resistance.
"Our focus is on bio control - part of which is coming up with new viruses and another part is enhancing existing viruses,'' he said.
"It's good news for those battling rabbits, which are the number one pest in Australia.
"They attack crops and impact on more than 100 threatened species.''
The IA CRC said good seasons and growing resistance to biological controls had boosted rabbit populations, and warned farmers about a potential surge in numbers.