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.

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.

PIRSA’s State Rabbit Control Coordinator works with existing landholder groups and industry to improve rabbit control activities by:

  • providing technical and logistical support
  • supporting strategic control through best practice
  • working with on-ground Natural Resources staff.

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

Contact your regional NRM board for information on how to get, store and use 1080 baits on your property.

Landholders and managers are reminded that they will have to sign an 'Approval to Possess 1080 and PAPP Bait' form when they collect baits from their local NRM officer. If they can't collect baits in person, they must nominate a collecting agent and fill out an Approval for Nominated Agent to Collect form (PDF 101.0 KB). The agent must bring this completed form with them to collect the baits.

Notifying neighbours before using poison baits

You must notify all neighbours before using any poison baits on a property.

You can use the neighbour notification letter template for baiting rabbits (PDF 332.1 KB or DOCX 20.3 KB).

All notifications must be recorded on a Neighbour notification record sheet (PDF 370.0 KB or DOCX 22.9 KB) and kept for 2 years.

Using 1080 safely

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

Biosecurity SA - Invasive Species Unit undertakes research that needs samples from fresh rabbit carcasses naturally infected with RHDV.

Please contact Invasive Species Unit (Biosecurity SA) if you:

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

Invasive Species Unit (Biosecurity SA)
Phone: (08) 8303 9620
Email: PIRSA.InvasiveSpecies@sa.gov.au


Wild rabbit control advice

Natural Resources website (Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources)

State Rabbit Control Coordinator

Phone: (08) 8303 9620
Email: PIRSA.InvasiveSpecies@sa.gov.au

Page Last Reviewed: 04 Apr 2019
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