News Release

National Park Service Encourages Visitors to Be Alert for Rabbit Carcasses

Small rabbit sitting in grass in front of brushy background
Cottontail rabbit

NPS Photo

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News Release Date: April 6, 2022

Contact: Dan Johnson, (435) 781-7700

Jensen, UT & Dinosaur, CO – The National Park Service is asking visitors to take caution and not to approach wildlife, especially wild rabbits. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) was recently detected in wild cottontail rabbits inside Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County, Utah.

RHDV2 is a highly contagious and lethal viral disease among domestic and wild rabbits. The virus does not infect humans, but other causes of illness and mortality in rabbits can. The public is instructed to remain cautious and to follow the instructions below to protect themselves, pets, and rabbits in this area.

If You See a Sick or Dead Rabbit in Dinosaur National Monument:
  • Do not touch or move dead rabbits.
  • Notify monument staff if any dead rabbits are observed. Disposal of sick or dead rabbits requires special protective equipment that park staff are equipped to use.
  • Provide the following information: Date observed; species if known (cottontail, jackrabbit, other), specific location; and a photo is helpful.
Protect Your Pets:
  • Keep dogs on a leash (6 feet or less).
  • Do not allow dogs to interact with sick or dead rabbits, or other wildlife.
Cause and Transmission
RHDV2 is a highly-contagious calicivirus of domestic rabbits, cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, and other hares. Other rabbit-like species may also be susceptible. Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is considered a foreign animal disease, meaning the disease is not typically found in the United States and is a threat to domestic and wild animal health. This virus is not related to the coronavirus causing COVID-19 in humans. Currently, very little data is available to predict the impact of this disease in North American rabbit populations; however, preliminary information suggests that mortality could be high, with population impacts to rabbits and species that prey upon rabbits. This virus can be transmitted among rabbits through contact with an infected rabbit, with body fluids or feces from an infected rabbit, or with a contaminated environment. The virus is very hardy and can survive on clothing, plant material, or other items that may be accidentally moved from an infected area. Before visiting other wild areas, wash clothing and disinfect footwear.

Public Health Concerns
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease is a serious disease of domestic rabbits. Rabbit owners should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidental exposure of rabbits to this disease. Domestic rabbits should not be housed outdoors in areas where contact with wild rabbits is possible. Contact your veterinarian for more information about this disease in domestic rabbits.

This disease does not affect people or domestic animals other than rabbits. However, multiple dead or sick rabbits can also be a sign of tularemia or plague, which are diseases that can cause serious illness in people. Do not handle sick or dead wildlife, and do not allow pets to contact or consume wildlife carcasses.

References:
https://www.usgs.gov/media/files/rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-virus-2-confirmed-wild-rabbits-ushttps://www.usgs.gov/media/files/continued-expansion-rabbit-hemorrhagic-disease-virus-2-na

For more information, call (435) 781-7700, visit www.nps.gov/dino or follow DinosaurNPS on social media.



Last updated: April 6, 2022

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