Rabbit num­bers drop due to virus

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

DEB­BIE JAMIESON

A rabbit virus re­leased na­tion­ally is re­duc­ing rabbit pop­u­la­tions by al­most a third in the Otago re­gion, new re­sults show.

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing and op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Scott MacLean said of­fi­cers were part way through night rabbit counts.

About 80 per cent of the sites showed a de­crease in rabbit num­bers of be­tween 0 and 80 per cent.

The av­er­age de­crease was about 29.9 per cent, ‘‘which is in line with ex­pec­ta­tions’’, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ported in a state­ment.

The fig­ures paint a ‘‘pos­i­tive pic­ture’’, it said.

Ten rabbit sam­ples taken from the field tested pos­i­tive for RHDV1 K5.

‘‘This in­di­cates that K5 is ac­tive in the wild rabbit pop­u­la­tion.

‘‘If any­one finds a dead rabbit, which is not ex­hibit­ing signs of an ob­vi­ous cause of death, it would be hugely ap­pre­ci­ated if they con­tact us to let us know.’’

It was hoped more than 40 per cent of the rabbit pop­u­la­tion would be killed by the K5 virus, af­ter it was re­leased in March.

SUP­PLIED

Jo­hanna Ver­meulen, of Wanaka, with Arthur, who was shot by her neigh­bour in April.

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