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Vaccinate pet rabbits now

RABBIT owners in Greater Sydney are being urged to vaccinate their animals prior to the release of the new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-K5) before the start of a feral rabbit baiting program in February.

Led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services with the support of major landholders, local councils and environmental agencies, the annual program takes an integrated approach to the reduction and management of feral rabbits.

Greater Sydney Biosecurity and Emergency Services Manager Graham Wilson said the program had been running since 2009 and had proven highly effective thanks to the cooperation of property owners and local government.

“Feral rabbits are a declared pest in NSW due to the significant amount of agricultural and environmental damage they cause. They are believed to have contributed to the decline or extinction of a number of NSW native species including the greater bilby and the yellow footed rock-wallaby and their overgrazing is estimated to cost Australian agriculture more than $115 million every year,” he said.

“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.

“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 baiting will take place in Arcadia, Baulkham Hills, Kurrajong, Hornsby, Warringah, Land Cover, Seaforth, Manly Vale, Milperra, Mossman, Pittwater, North Epping, South West Sydney, Parramatta and Central Coast areas and is expected to begin in mid-February and run through to the end of March 2017.

ENDS

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