Four years after the release of Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) in New Zealand, we conducted a mail survey of farmers to ascertain their attitudes and practices about rabbit control. A multistage sampling frame (stratified by rabbit-proneness and farm type) was used to select 828 farms in eight geographical regions. The useable response proportion of the survey was 69.3%, and 21% of respondents considered rabbits to be a problem on their farms. Although practices for rabbit control had changed from 1995 to 2001, shooting (practised by 85% of respondents) remained the predominant method used (albeit less frequently than in 1995). Ten percent of farmers used RHDV baiting; of those, 90% released the virus relatively infrequently. Farmers perceived shooting to be the most-humane and environmentally safe method, while RHDV was perceived to be the most effective. Perception of the level of competition for grazing between rabbits and livestock was the factor most-strongly associated with the use of shooting and RHDV. Most (60%) respondents considered the introduction of RHDV to have been beneficial.
- Multistage sampling
- Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus
- Survey design