Rabbit numbers drop due to virus
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.
Johanna Vermeulen, of Wanaka, with Arthur, who was shot by her neighbour in April.