Otago rab­bit num­bers drop

Clutha Leader - - 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, which was re­leased at 100 sites in Otago.

The K5 rab­bit virus is prov­ing ef­fec­tive.

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