[26 March/NZ Farmer]

The rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) was re-released to curb the growing wild rabbit population. It was previously released in 1997, however after 20 years its effect was decreasing. Farmers are generally relieved by the news, and some were desperate according to Mackenzie Country Runholder, Andrew Simpson. He said the timing was critical for some areas to prevent property damage. The previous introduction was a covert undertaking by farmers, and it wasn’t until several weeks later that dead rabbits were found to have died of RHD. Rabbits were introduced in the 1800’s for food and sport. Biosecurity Team Leader at Environment Canterbury, Brent Glentworth, said since its release, RHD had become less effective and rabbits now had antibodies to RHD. RHD was still seen as an effective control. Federated Farers President, Mark Adams, said that it was necessary to prevent the catastrophic damage rabbits can do.