Wyomingites are being asked to keep a lookout for dead rabbits in their yards, rural property and other outdoor areas. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is continuing surveillance for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2). The disease was first detected in Wyoming in December 2020 and has been identified in 20 rabbits across eight counties in 2024. Testing rabbits is key to monitoring the disease spread.

RHDV2 is a fatal disease of rabbits and hares. An estimated 35-50% of infected wild rabbits succumb to the disease.

Jessica Jennings-Gaines, Game and Fish wildlife disease specialist, said all of Wyoming’s lagomorphs are potentially susceptible — that includes game and nongame species like cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits and pygmy rabbits. Domestic rabbits also are at risk, however, domestic pets and livestock are not at risk from the disease.

The first indication of RHDV2 infection in rabbits is dead animals.

“Any rabbit could become infected with the disease, it could be a cottontail living in your yard or the one you see while hiking,” Jennings-Gaines said. “Please report any dead rabbits you find.”

RHDV2 does not pose a threat to humans, but rabbits carry other diseases such as tularemia and plague. The public is advised not to touch or pick up any dead wild rabbits. Rather, note the location and report it to Game and Fish by calling the Game and Fish Wildlife Health Lab at (307) 745-5865 or the nearest regional office. Reports can also be made online. Game and Fish personnel will evaluate the situation, and make plans to collect the rabbit if testing is needed.

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