Veterinarians at Washington State University are asking parents to avoid purchasing bunnies for Easter this year.
Dr. Nickol Finch, WSU Veterinarian, says every year, bunnies are purchased as Easter gifts and later released. This comes as Idaho’s first fatal disease in wild rabbits was documented.
Beyond the scares of this virus spreading, domestic rabbits can also spread diseases that can harm wild rabbit populations. Dr. Finch says this is particularly worrisome because every year bunnies are purchased as Easter gifts, and every year, many of those bunnies are released.
Another viral concern is rabbit hemorrhagic disease, which causes sudden death in rabbits and can be spread through contact with infected animals.
The disease is quickly sweeping through the West.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture is asking rabbit owners to practice good biosecurity measures such as washing their hands before and after working with rabbits and not sharing equipment with other owners.
People are encouraged to report dead wild rabbits such as cottontails and jackrabbits to their local wildlife agencies.