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New York

Hunting

Attention Rabbit Hunters

Protect New York’s Rabbits and Hares

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is a fatal virus that affects rabbits and hares. In 2010, a new strain, RHDV2 was identified. RHDV2 was first documented in pet rabbits in the U.S. in 2018. In 2020, RHDV2 jumped to wild rabbits and hares in the southwestern U.S., where it spread to six states within 4 months.

RHDV2 is extremely hardy, easily transmitted, and highly lethal to rabbits and hares. It does not infect humans or other animals. RHDV2 spreads easily through direct contact between rabbits or contact with contaminated environments or objects. The virus can remain contagious for 3 or more months in a carcass or on inanimate objects.

If RHDV2 enters New York’s wild rabbit and hare populations, it could be impossible to control and could result in significant population declines throughout the State. To help protect these species:

  • Avoid contact with domestic rabbits.
  • If you are a member of a beagle club, avoid using domestic rabbits or transplanted wild rabbits for training.
  • Avoid travel to states that have confirmed RHDV2 outbreaks; disinfect all gear after out-of-state travel with a 10% bleach solution (1-part household bleach, 9 parts water).
  • Properly dispose of rabbit carcasses and bury carcasses deep enough to prevent scavenging.
  • Do not bring rabbit carcasses killed in other states to New York.
  • Report unusual rabbit mortalities to the DEC Wildlife Health Program (518-478-2203; wildlife@dec.ny.gov).