Pet Owners encouraged to keep rabbits safe Northern Sydney Regional Rabbit Control Program RHDV-K5 virus release
Owners of domestic rabbits are being encouraged to vaccinate their pet rabbit or take actions to keep them safe as a regional feral rabbit control program gets underway in northern Sydney in late February 2017 through to the end of March 2017.
The aim of the program is to reduce feral rabbit numbers and their impacts. In urban environments this is most effective using Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-K5) to control wild rabbits. Rabbits are declared a pest animal in NSW as they compete with native animals and degrade Australian native animals, plants and Endangered Ecological Communities. They are also causing public nuisance and significant damage to playing fields, public parks and private property in northern Sydney.
While RHDV-K5 is not harmful to native animals or other domestic pets (it is species-specific), pet rabbits can be infected by contact with wild rabbits and biting insects. This year a new strain of RHDV, the K5-strain is being released due to its improved suitability to Australian conditions, in particular the cool-wet regions of Sydney where previous strains were less effective.
Rabbit owners can contact local Vets to discuss vaccination and additional protection measures including alternate housing in mosquito-proof enclosures away from contact with wild rabbits.
The release is currently scheduled to take place in selected reserves and open space in northern Sydney from late February through to the end of March. The release is dependent on weather conditions and therefore pet owners should maintain the vaccination program as recommended by their Vet.