New Zealand authorities will use a new virus to combat rabbits that breed too quickly and cause damage to farmers. This was reported by the BBC with reference to the Ministry of Nature and Agriculture.
The RHDV1-K5 virus will be released into nature in March 2018. It will act on the internal organs of rabbits, causing them a fever and trouble breathing. It is noted that they will die only a few days after infection. The virus does not act on other animals or humans.
In New Zealand, they have been fighting rabbits with viruses since 1997. Then the authorities used RHDV (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus), but over 20 years the animals developed immunity. Other ways of fighting rabbits in the country are called ineffective. They tried to shoot, poison, install special barriers, but this did not lead to tangible results.
The growing population of rabbits is a serious problem for New Zealand agriculture. They damage the land and compete with ordinary cattle on pastures. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, rabbits cause the country $ 36 million in damage each year, and they spend half of this amount to fight against them.
The views of the inhabitants of New Zealand on the need to combat pests in such a radical way are divided. Farmers supported the initiative, saying that if this is not done, the damage from rabbits “can only be imagined.” Animal advocates said that there are “more humane methods”, but did not explain what.
The RHDV1-K5 virus was tested in 2017 in Australia, which also struggles with the growing rabbit population. The use of the strain did not bring any problems.