Another Rabbit Virus A Backward Step

Otago Regional Council’s plans to introduce a new virus to kill rabbits is a massive backward step, says New Zealand First.

“Wild rabbits are a huge economic cost to farmers, but to release the K5 virus, knowing it will only knock down 40 per cent, and numbers will bounce back in a few years is madness.

“K5 virus is a variant of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHDV1) strain already in New Zealand.

“There is no guarantee the virus won’t mutate and jump species, it causes inhumane deaths and is a threat to the country’s 100,000 pet rabbits as there is no vaccine.

“The initial illegal release in 1997 of the RHD virus, or calicivirus as it was thought to be at the time, occurred as a result of an inadequate response by the Government to a problem that could have been solved using proven methods – and we’re about to do it again.


“New Zealand First believes an alternative approach to pest control must be used in order to preserve our country's ecological integrity and reputation, and to address essential animal welfare concerns. We could be harvesting them for profit.


“Rabbit meat is in high demand in restaurants overseas. Pet food manufacturers can’t get enough of it.


“Rabbit control should involve properly resourced, bounty-based, target-specific methods that create jobs and income, while allowing for overall numbers to be reduced to below a problematic threshold, not indiscriminate poisons and viral methods with no antidote,” says Mr Prosser