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Wyoming wildlife officials to test dead rabbits for disease

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wildlife officials in Wyoming have asked residents to report dead rabbits in their yards, rural property and outdoor areas because a viral disease has been identified in several neighboring states.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has tested carcasses statewide for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus2 to monitor the spread of the disease, the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner reported.

The disease has been confirmed in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Texas. It has not yet been found in Wyoming. It does not pose a threat to humans, but other diseases carried by rabbits can.

All rabbits and hares in Wyoming are susceptible to the disease, including game and nongame species like cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits and pygmy rabbits, said Samantha Allen, department state wildlife veterinarian. Domestic rabbits are also at risk, but other domestic pets and livestock are not.

“Any rabbit could become infected with the disease — so it could be a cottontail living in your yard or the one you see while hiking,” Allen said. “Please report any dead rabbits you find. Testing these carcasses is the only way to know if the disease is in Wyoming.”

Up to 50% of infected wild rabbits die from the disease, officials said.

Department officials have encouraged people not to pick up or touch any dead wild rabbits, but to report the location of the finds to wildlife officials.

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