Local Lands Services prepares for latest Macarthur rabbit baiting initiative

Macarthur rabbit owners have been warned to vaccinate their pet bunnies before a fatal feral rabbit vaccine is released across the region.

Greater Sydney Local Lands Services (LLS) will release a rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus known as RHDVI-K5 in late October as part of its upcoming rabbit baiting program.

The virus will be released across the Lakesland, Bargo, Wedderburn and Campbelltown areas.

LLS biosecurity officer Joshua Topham said it was important that domestic rabbits were vaccinated prior to the program launch.

”The virus is mainly spread by contact between rabbits or via insects such as mosquitoes and flies,” he said.

“The virus is only effective in rabbits and if pets are vaccinated, they become immune. This program is designed to complement our ongoing control efforts on private and public land.

“We encourage landholders experiencing issues with feral rabbits to continue working with us to roll out coordinated control campaigns.”

Feral rabbits are a declared pest in NSW due to the significant amount of agricultural and environmental damage they cause.

Their overgrazing is estimated to cost the Australian agricultural industry more than $200 million each year.

Feral rabbits are believed to have contributed to the decline or extinction of NSW native species such as the greater bilby and yellow-footed rock wallaby.

It will be the third time the RHDVI-K5 virus has been released after the program was first rolled out nationally in March 2017.

Mr Topham said the initial release led to a 42 per cent reduction in feral rabbit numbers across NSW.

“This follow-up program ensures we can target new areas and support more landholders and local governments to reduce the impact of these pests,” he said.

Greater Sydney LLS is also putting the final touches on its Macarthur fox baiting program, which will begin on September 1.

For more details about either baiting program, visit the LLS Greater Sydney website.

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