Detection of Rabbit Disease Results in Special Regulations

The recent detection of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) in two captive rabbits in Fayette County has resulted in a small Disease Management Area (DMA), within which special regulations pertaining to wild rabbits apply, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced today.

Wild rabbits or hares may not be captured, transported, rehabilitated or released within the RHD-DMA in southwestern Pennsylvania, which extends about 5 miles in each direction from the site in Uniontown where RHD was detected. The feeding of wild rabbits also is prohibited within the RHD-DMA. Hunters harvesting rabbits within the DMA need to prepare them for consumption before removing them from the DMA. Only the meat, with or without bone, may be removed from the DMA. The removal of all other rabbit parts is prohibited.

The Game Commission’s establishment of the RHD-DMA follows the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s detection of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in two captive rabbits in a Fayette County facility. RHDV2 is a highly pathogenic and contagious virus affecting hares, rabbits and closely related species. It has caused mass die-offs in wild hare and rabbit populations elsewhere, but had not previously been detected in Pennsylvania. The RHD-DMA serves to protect Pennsylvania’s wild rabbits from the introduction and spread of RHDV2.

The RHD-DMA boundary is as follows: Beginning west of Uniontown at the intersection of SR 21 and SR 3023 (Footedale Road) proceed North on SR 3023 (becoming S. Mill St in New Salem) for 4.7 miles to the intersection of SR 4010 (Searights Herbert Road). Follow SR 4010 east (becoming Pleasant View Smock Road then Upper Middletown Road finally Laurel Hill Road) for 9 miles to the intersection of SR 1051 (W. Crawford Ave). Follow SR 1051 east for .3 miles to SR 1049 (Eighty Acres Road). Follow SR 1049 east for 1.8 miles to the intersection of SR 119. Follow SR 119 south for 1.9 miles to the intersection of SR 2027 (Connellsville Road). Proceed south on SR 2027 for 2.7 miles to the intersection of SR 2021 (Coolspring Jumonville Road). Follow SR 2021 south and east for 1 mile to the intersection of SR 2023 (Hopwood Coolspring Road). Follow 2023 for 2.4 miles to the intersection SR 2040 (National Pike). Follow SR 2040 south for .2 miles to the intersection of SR 3027 (Hopwood Fairchance Road becoming Mountain Road). Follow SR 3027 (Mountain Road becoming N. Main St in Fairchance) southwest for 5 miles to the intersection of SR 3014 (W. Church St). Follow SR 3014 west (becoming Dry Knob Road) for 1.1 miles to the intersection Big Six Road. Turn right on Bix Six Road for .3 mile to the intersection of SR 119 (Morgantown Road). Turn right on SR 119 and follow for .5 miles to the intersection of SR 3012 (York Run Road). Follow SR 3012 for 3.5 miles to the intersection of SR 3009 (Walnut Hill Road). Proceed north on SR 3009 for .8 miles to the intersection of Davis Road. Follow Davis Road becoming Sunshine Hollow Rd for 1 mile to the intersection of Kelly RD. Turn sharp right and proceed east on Kelly Rd for 1 mile to the intersection of SR 21 (McClellandtown Road). Follow SR 21 east for .3 miles to the point of DMA Boundary origin.

Aside from the special regulations announced today, a previous Game Commission executive order pertaining to RHD remains in place. That order prohibits the importation into Pennsylvania of any wild lagomorph – a group that includes rabbits, hares and pikas – or any of their parts or products from any state, province, territory or country where RHDV2 has been detected in captive or wild lagomorphs within the previous 12 months. This ban will remain in effect until further notice, and as of October 2022 applies to Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Pennsylvania’s rabbit season got underway Saturday with the 2022 junior season opener. Rabbit hunting opens statewide Oct. 15.

All Pennsylvanians are asked to help monitor for RHDV2 reporting any hare/rabbit mortality events – defined as finding two or more dead hares/rabbits at the same location and at the same time with an unknown cause of death – by calling 1-833-PGC-WILD or by using the online Wildlife Health Survey reporting tool at https://www.pgcapps.pa.gov/WHS.