Wild rabbits

National release of RHDV1 K5

A new naturally occurring strain of rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV1), known as K5, was released on 1 March 2017. Early data from sites where the strain was released in South Australia has shown a subsequent reduction in wild rabbit populations of around 50%, reflecting the national trend.

Current vaccines fully protect rabbits against K5. Rabbit owners can download our Protecting pet rabbits from calicivirus in South Australia (PDF 356.8 KB) for instructions about vaccinations and preventing the spread of calicivirus to pets.

State and territory governments made sure:

  • there would be maximum impact on wild rabbit populations
  • the necessary approvals and governance arrangements are in place
  • affected landholders and community groups are fully informed

before the strain was released.

Read the Media release reminding rabbit owners to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Further information on the national release of RHDV1 K5 is available on the PestSmart website.

The K5 release is just one of a number of strategies aimed at helping landowners better manage wild rabbits. It's now time to think about follow up control for pest rabbits. A multi-strategy approach to rabbit control is recommended to achieve long term benefits on the back of the K5 release.

For information on purchasing RHDV1 K5 vials as part of your control program please contact the NSW Department of Primary Industries Virology Laboratory:

Controlling rabbits on your property

Landholders are responsible for the satisfactory control of wild rabbits on their properties under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.

The keeping, movement and sale of rabbits is prohibited on offshore islands (excluding Wardang Island). Landholders should also notify their regional Natural Resources Management (NRM) board if wild rabbits are found on offshore islands.

Conventional control methods

Conventional control methods include:

  • poison baiting particularly in late summer and early autumn
  • warren ripping
  • warren fumigation
  • monitoring.

Detailed rabbit control and monitoring techniques are available on the:

Baiting with 1080

Landowners who wish to use 1080 baits to control rabbits on their property must sign an Approval to Possess 1080 Bait. For supply and possession of 1080 bait contact your regional NRM board.

When using 1080 baits always read the Material Safety Data Sheets and follow the directions of use:

Biological control

The biological control agents used to manage wild rabbits are:

  • Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) which is transmitted by flies and direct contact between rabbits.
  • Myxoma virus which is transmitted by two species of imported rabbit fleas, mosquitoes, and direct contact between rabbits.

You can support the spread of biological control agents by leaving infected rabbit carcasses where they died. Conventional control methods should be continued.

Report RHDV outbreaks

NRM Biosecurity undertakes research that needs samples from fresh rabbit carcasses naturally infected with RHDV.

Please contact John Kovaliski from NRM Biosecurity if you:

  • are aware of any outbreaks of RHDV
  • see dead rabbits on or near rabbit warrens, particularly from August to December.

John Kovaliski, NRM Biosecurity
Phone: (08) 8303 9503
Email: john.kovaliski@sa.gov.au


Wild rabbit control advice

Natural Resources:

Page Last Reviewed: 27 Feb 2017
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