The City of Canning had also planned to launch a program in Spring 2020 to control wild rabbit populations but had postponed due to a national shortage of rabbit vaccines which provide protection for domestic rabbits against pest control measures (RHDV).
Foxes and feral cats prey on local wildlife such as birds, small mammals, lizards and frogs while rabbits degrade bushland areas by preventing the regeneration and establishment of native vegetation through grazing.
Efforts to control feral animals can have effects on our pets, so pet owners need to be careful where feral animal control programs are in place. We highly recommend you familiarise with programs planned in your local area and follow recommendations to keep your pets safe.
Rabbit Pest Control and Precautions for Rabbit Owners
Rabbits are considered pests in Western Australia and can cause extensive environmental damage by degrading bushland, causing erosion and competing with native animals for shelter, food and habitat.
Calicivirus or Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) only affects rabbits and does not affect any other species including native animals, dogs and cats. It exists and persists in the natural environment.
Rabbit owners are advised as per RSPCA and Australian Veterinary Association recommendations to ensure that their pet rabbits are immunised against RHDV and hutches are insect resistant. Rabbit deaths can also occur outside control program timeframes given RHDV endures in the natural environment and outbreaks may occur that are unrelated to any planned virus release.
Protection against RHDV
Based on scientific evidence to date, the existing RHDV1 vaccine (known as Cylap®) is effective against RHDV1 K5. It is recommended that all domestic rabbit owners vaccinate their rabbits prior to the release of RHDV and/or ensure their animals’ vaccinations are up-to-date.