The Australian Government has announced the release of rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus, also known as Calicivirus or RHDV1, in the first week of March 2017 to target the wild rabbit population.
Eurobodalla Shire Council’s invasive species team is working with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to release the virus using carrot baits in wild rabbit feeding locations across the shire between 27 February and 3 March.
This virus is highly contagious and could affect local pet rabbits if they come into contact with the baits or wild rabbits.
To protect pet rabbits, Council and the Department of Primary Industries strongly recommend they are vaccinated.
Pet rabbit owners should contact their local vet for more information. Council staff have been in touch with all local vets to advise them of the RHDV1 release.
The DPI advises that the virus does not have an afterlife or dormancy like a poison does. It will not affect humans, native wildlife, pets or fish.
While other animals could eat the baited carrots, they cannot become diseased and the manner in which the bait is put out also reduces the risk of other animals eating the baits before rabbits can get to them.
In addition to vaccination against RHDV1, the DPI also recommends:
Direct and indirect contact between domestic wild rabbits is prevented. Examples of indirect contact include cutting grass that has had wild rabbits on it and feeding the grass to domestic rabbits or placing hutches in areas that wild rabbits have access to.
Good insect control is also important and will help reduce the risks of introduction of both RHDV and myxomatosis. Insect control could include insect proofing the hutch or keeping the rabbits indoors.
Wash hands, with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.