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Rabbit owners urged to vaccinate now

RABBIT owners in Northern Sydney are being urged to vaccinate their animals against Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1) before the start of a feral rabbit baiting program in April.

Led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services with the support of the Urban Feral Animal Action Group (UFAAG) the annual program aims to reduce the population of feral rabbits throughout Northern Sydney.

Greater Sydney Biosecurity and Emergency Services Manager Graham Wilson said last year the program resulted in an overall reduction of more than 60 per cent in the feral rabbit population.

“Feral rabbits are a declared pest in NSW due to the significant amount of environmental damage they cause,” he said.

“They are believed to have contributed to the decline or extinction of a number of NSW native species including the greater bilby, yellow footed rock-wallaby, southern and northern hairy-nosed wombats, the Mallee fowl and the plains-wanderer and their overgrazing is estimated to cost Australia agriculture more than $115 million every year.”

Mr Wilson said the program had been running since 2009 and was developed in consultation with local councils as well as major land owners throughout Northern Sydney as part of regional campaign.

“It’s important people who own rabbits vaccinate for RHDV now to ensure that if their domestic rabbit comes in contact with the virus, mainly spread by contact between other rabbits and insects, they are immune,” Mr Wilson said.

“Owners of pet rabbits should consult with their vet now and maintain a vaccination program to protect their rabbits,” Mr Wilson said.

The program is expected to begin in mid-April and run through to the end of May.

Media contact: Nikki McGrath (02) 4724 2138 M: 0448 953 755