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Pet rabbit owners urged to vaccinate now

Hunter and Manning Great Lakes pet rabbit owners are being encouraged to vaccinate their animals before the planned release of calicivirus between late January and early February 2018. The virus will be released in known hotspots, as Hunter Local Land Services works with landholders to reduce populations of wild rabbits.

Calicivirus is used to control wild rabbits which are a declared pest animal in NSW as they cause major agricultural and environmental damage.

“The release of calicivirus in early 2018 is part of an integrated approach to the management of wild rabbits across our region,” said Luke Booth, Biosecurity Team Leader with Hunter Local Land Services.

“It’s important that people who own pet rabbits vaccinate for calicivirus now, to ensure that if their domestic rabbit comes in contact with the virus, they are immune.

“Calicivirus is mainly spread from rabbit to rabbit by contact in burrows and biting insects like mosquitoes.”

Owners of pet rabbits should consult their private vet and maintain a vaccination program to protect their rabbits.

To assist with reducing the impacts of wild rabbits, Hunter Local Land Services wants to hear from landholders concerned about rabbit numbers on their property to accurately map and target known hotspots across the region.

Hunter Local Land Services is spending $90,000 this year, working with landholders and local government to control wild rabbits.

“Calicivirus is a very effective control tool where there are susceptible populations of wild rabbits,” said Mr Booth.

“In cases where there are wild rabbits around urban areas, traditional control methods using poisons, fumigants or shooting is restricted, due to increased risks.

“We are urging landholders undertake control works including baiting, removing harbour and destroying burrows before and after the programmed calicivirus release to maximise its success.”

Releases are timed to obtain the most benefit when there is the highest likelihood of effective spread of the virus in the pest population.

In the Hunter Local Land Services region the most favourable time for calicivirus to be released is in summer.

Landholders can contact Hunter Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 to report rabbit activity in their area, or find out more about the calicivirus release.


Media contact: Penny Evans Hunter Local Land Services, 0417413026