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In your February newsletter...

All set for Mallee K5 Calici Virus release from March

A new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease, known as RHDV1 K5 or ‘K5’ will be released at 15 Mallee sites from March.
The Mallee sites are among 600 across Australia where the virus will be released in a co-ordinated national attack on one of Australia's most destructive agricultural and environmental pests.
It’s the first time in 20 years a new rabbit biocontrol agent is being released into Australia, however K5 is not a new virus; it is a strain of the existing virus already widespread in Australia, commonly known as calicivirus.
The Victorian release of K5 is the culmination of work undertaken by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) in partnership with Agriculture Victoria, and sites were selected from expressions of interest from Landcare and community groups. 
There were 355 expressions of interest in Victoria, resulting in 150 sites being selected for release, including 15 in the Mallee. Sites were specifically selected based on national criteria, adapted for Victorian conditions, with the overwhelming community response to host a release site in Victoria allowing strategic selection of locations to ensure widespread distribution of the virus right across the State.
However, K5 is not a silver bullet.  It is unlikely to result in population reductions like those seen in 1996-97 when calicivirus first arrived in Victoria -- knockdowns are expected to be between10 to 40 per cent, depending on location and susceptibility of the rabbit population to K5, however some vulnerable rabbit populations may be affected at higher rates.

K5 - Information for pet owners

RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus; it is a Korean variant of the existing virus already widespread in Australia. K5 is a naturally occurring variant of RHDV1. The virus has not been altered by humans in any way.  K5 affects only the European rabbit. Disease cannot be caused in any other animal.
The Australian Veterinary Association advises that rabbit owners vaccinate domestic rabbits and provide additional protection against the virus and myxomatosis by keeping rabbits inside or in insect-proof enclosures. Online information is available from the Australian Veterinary Association. 

Have your say on Mallee wetlands

You're invited to have your say on how ten priority wetland and waterway regions in Mallee CMA region can be improved.
Tell us about issues (e.g. weeds, pests) and what you would like to see done to improve the area (e.g. revegetation; upgrades to walking tracks).  Priority areas include wetlands and waterways near Birchip, Culgoa, Sea Lake, Ultima, Vinifera, Nyah, Wood Wood, Piangil, Haysdale, Windomil, Narrung, lraak, Karadoc, Nichols Point, Upper Kulnine, Kulnine and Neds Corner.
The information you provide will help inform planning and delivery of on-ground works over the next four years. The planning is being undertaken by the Mallee CMA through funding from the Victorian Government's Regional Riparian Action Plan.
Have your say by completing the online survey at Printed versions of the survey are available by contacting the Mallee CMA at or on (03) 5051 4377.
The survey closes at 5pm on Friday 17 March 2017.

Listen...what bird is that?

Have you ever heard a bird-call but weren't sure which bird it was coming from?
An amazing resource for nature lovers is the Internet Bird Collection -- a fascinating international portal ( where people from all over the world share their bird recordings, pictures and videos.  
It's an initiative of the Handbook of the Birds of the World website (another great ornithological resource).
Thanks to Cole Langangke of Red Cliffs for sharing this beautiful photograph of a White-Faced Heron -- now hear what it sounds like here.

Feral cats making a meal of Hattah Kulkyne's small species

A new study estimates feral cats are killing up to 2000 small animals in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park every day.
The study by the Arthur Rylah Institute, in partnership with the Mallee CMA, found there are approximately 91 feral cats living in the park, each eating between five and 30 small animals - meaning between 400 and 2000 bite-sized birds, animals and reptiles each day are falling victim to the cats.
Australia is the only continent, other than Antarctica, where native animals have evolved without cats and that’s why our wildlife is so vulnerable – because they are not good at defending themselves against cats.  It's believed feral cats are responsible for two-thirds of mammal extinctions in Australia.
The Mallee CMA is currently using cat traps to target cat populations at Hattah, but cats are wily animals and quite hard to catch.  Trapping and baiting programs can assist but the research is looking at the most effective ways to target the species.  Community members wanting to get involved in work to control feral cats can download the Feral Cat Scan App. It allows people to map and monitor pest animal sightings and impacts, with data collected used to better target and implement strategies to control feral cats.  The app can be downloaded for free the AppStore or Google play.  A fact sheet on feral cat research in the Hattah Kulkyne National Park is available at the Mallee CMA website.

Honing in on technology - farmer workshops across the Mallee

Hopetoun workshop
March 20, 2017
10am - 2pm
Including lunch and refreshments
Gateway BEET

Inquiries: Kate McWhinney at Mallee CMA
Farmers have been getting the lowdown on everything from drones in agriculture to the best use of break crops at a series of farmer workshops across the region.
Workshops have so far been held at Lake Cullulleraine and Underbool but if you missed out, there's still the Hopetoun workshop on March 20 (click here for more information).
Topics include:
  • The use of drones in agriculture;
  • Managing saline discharge areas; and
  • Break crops in the Mallee
This project is supported by Mallee Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

What a difference revegetation makes!

Before - Revegetation site at Danyo, west of Ouyen, in 2014
After - The same site in 2017
Another round of Mallee Biodiversity Grants will allow even more groups and landholders to get involved in important revegetation projects across our region.
A total of $397,502 in Australian Government funding will help deliver a range of activities to improve habitat for native flora and fauna, create corridors of native bushland and protect priority areas.
The Mallee Biodiversity Grants program is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
Approximately $149,000 is going to 15 local groups to complete a range of works including revegetation, stock exclusion fencing and pest control.
In addition, an impressive $248,000 is going to private landholders to cover fencing, seed, trees and planting costs associated with establishing five stock exclusion areas and 12 revegetation projects.

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PS: Don't forget to subscribe...

The first 2017 edition of our twice-yearly magazine The Mallee Farmer will be out next month. 

The autumn-winter edition is packed with farm-based research and data, natural resource and farm management information relating to the Mallee, as well as stories about Mallee people and projects.

In the meantime, you can see the spring-summer issue (pictured left) or look at any of the past issues of the magazine here.

If you would like to have the digital newsletter delivered directly to your inbox, please email Kevin Chaplin   or if you would prefer a hard copy, please contact Kevin by phone at Mallee CMA or email your request.   If you have stories to include in future issues, please let us know. 
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