The Australian and New Zealand Governments have been supporting assessment of a biological control (rabbit calicivirus) that has the potential to kill feral rabbits swiftly without affecting any native animals.
 
Assessment of the virus commenced in 1989 and included three years of laboratory testing. In March 1995 field trials started on an island off southern Australia. In October 1995 the virus escaped to the mainland. Over the next 5 months it spread sporadically to all mainland States.
 
The escape of the virus pre-empted the planned lengthy period of public consultation during 1996 before the proposed release date in 1997. The project's proponents and the media had to react quickly to communicate to the public just what the risks of the situation were.
 
This is a complex case involving many facets of science and risk communication.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Aspects of the Rabbit Calicivirus Project - how well we cope when things go wrong

Nicholas Newland  

Leigh Dayton  

Greg Ray  

Ian Anderson  

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have been supporting assessment of a biological control (rabbit calicivirus) that has the potential to kill feral rabbits swiftly without affecting any native animals.
 
Assessment of the virus commenced in 1989 and included three years of laboratory testing. In March 1995 field trials started on an island off southern Australia. In October 1995 the virus escaped to the mainland. Over the next 5 months it spread sporadically to all mainland States.
 
The escape of the virus pre-empted the planned lengthy period of public consultation during 1996 before the proposed release date in 1997. The project's proponents and the media had to react quickly to communicate to the public just what the risks of the situation were.
 
This is a complex case involving many facets of science and risk communication.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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