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Dinosaur National Monument visitors should avoid rabbits

Domestic rabbits should also not be housed outdoors in areas where contact with wild rabbits is possible.
Credit: NPS Photo
Cottontail rabbit

DINOSAUR, Colo. — The National Park Service (NPS) said visitors at Dinosaur National Monument should avoid wildlife, especially wild rabbits. 

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) was recently detected in wild cottontail rabbits inside Dinosaur National Monument. Visitors should take caution and not approach wildlife, said NPS.

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.

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 of 6 feet or less.
  • Do not allow dogs to interact with sick or dead rabbits, or other wildlife.
Credit: NPS Photo
Cottontail rabbit

Public health concerns:

NPS said there is little data is available to predict the impact of RHDV2 in North American rabbit populations, but preliminary data suggests that mortality could be high.

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. NPS said the virus 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.

NPS said domestic rabbits should also not be housed outdoors in areas where contact with wild rabbits is possible.

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