Biological virus to be released across the Tweed to control rabbit population

A BIOLOGICAL virus will be released across the Tweed next month in an effort to control the rabbit population.

A new strain of the calicivirus, RHDV1 K5, was first released nationally as a biological control in February and is expected to be released across the Tweed in late November.

Rabbit owners across the Tweed are being advised to take precautions to protect their pets from the nasty virus.


Council has strongly urged residents with pet rabbits to have them vaccinated.

Council Coordinator of Natural Resource Management, Jane Lofthouse, said residents with pet rabbits were urged to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Owners can also protect their pet rabbits against the virus by ensuring their pets do not come into contact with wild rabbits or eat grass that has been grazed on by wild rabbits,” Ms Lofthouse said.

“The virus can be transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes, and flies, so try to ensure hutches are insect-proof.”

Victorian Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Cameron Bell said the current vaccine should be administered every six months to ensure all-round protection.

Ms Lofthouse said the wild rabbit population across the Tweed was made up of the European wild rabbit and escaped or dumped free-living domestic rabbits.

The animal reproduces rapidly in the wild and competes with livestock and wildlife for food and water.

“Rabbits are increasingly becoming an urban issue as domestic rabbits escape or are deliberately released,” she said.

“[they are] damaging gardens, undermining house footings, destroying house termite barriers and bringing wild dogs, foxes and brown snakes closer to human habitation.”

Free-living populations are known to habitat the Chinderah, South Kingscliff, Casuarina, Koala Beach, Bilambil Heights, Tumbulgum, Condong, Murwillumbah, Tyalgum and Limpinwood areas.

Ms Lofthouse said some residents had managed to tame the wild rabbits by feeding them on their properties.

Residents who wish to catch tame rabbits can do so by loaning purposely built rabbit traps from Council.

Ms Lofthouse said the Rabbit Sanctuary in Grafton will then collect the rabbits and prepare them for rehoming.

For more information, see the Rabbit Sanctuary Facebook page or website

For more information on the release of the biological agent, please contact Amy Hockings at North Coast Local Land Services on (02) 6623 3906.