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Vaccinate pet rabbits now

Rabbit owners in Greater Sydney are being urged to vaccinate domestic rabbits prior to the roll out of a feral rabbit baiting program in late October.

Led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services with the support of major landholders, local councils and environmental agencies, the program will see the re-release of a new strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus known as RHDV1-K5.

Greater Sydney Team Leader Nicole Schembri said the program adopted an integrated approach to the reduction and management of feral rabbits throughout known problem areas in the region.

“Earlier this year the new strain of RHDV was released due to its improved suitability to Australian conditions, in particular the cool-wet regions of Sydney,” she said.

“This is the second release after the initial national release in March 2017 which led to a 42 per cent reduction in feral rabbit numbers across NSW.  This follow up program ensures we can target new areas and support more landholders and local governments to minimise the impact of these pests.”

Ms Schembri said it was important domestic rabbit owners went to their local vets to vaccinate their pets prior to the release.

“The virus is spread mainly by contact between rabbits or via insects such as mosquitos and flies. Importantly, RHDV is only effective in rabbits and if pets are vaccinated they become immune.”

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 $200 million every year.

The program will target feral rabbit hotspots in Ku-ring-gai, the Hills, the Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Woollahra, Campbelltown, Blacktown, Harbour Trust, Lane Cove, Menangle, Richmond, Arcadia, Lakesland, Wilberforce, Berkshire Park, Picton and the Central Coast.

ENDS

Media contact: Nikki McGrath, Greater Sydney Local Land Services (02) 4724 2138 M: 0448 953 755