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Grand Canyon warns visitors of wild rabbit carcasses

NPS says a viral disease that doesn't affect humans was found in a dead jackrabbit in Grand Canyon National Park. It's the park's first detected case.
Credit: NPS/Michael Quinn
Sunset, on this the first day of September, 2019. (Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim.) GOOD NEWS: The pipeline has been repaired and water is being pumped to both rims. Drinking water is available, once again, at all locations along Corridor Trails. DETAILS: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/trail-closures.htm#CP_JUMP_1941213 #GrandCanyon #Arizona #GoGrand #GrandCanyon100 #100YearsOfGrand [Description: a limestone cliff in the foreground with an unpaved trail entering a tunnel in the rock. In the distance, warm sunset light falling onto peaks and cliffs within a vast canyon.] NPS/M.Quinn

GRAND CANYON VILLAGE, Ariz. — The National Park Service is asking visitors at Grand Canyon National Park to not approach wildlife, especially wild rabbits. 

According to the NPS, Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) was found in a dead jackrabbit, found inside Grand Canyon National Park. It's the park's first detected case.

The disease does not impact human health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the contagious and lethal disease is caused by several virus strains and it has been found in North American over the past few years.

While the virus does not infect humans, NPS says other causes of illness and mortality of rabbits can. 

The public is asked to follow the instructions below to protect themselves, pets and rabbits while in the park. 

According to NPS, if you see sick or dead rabbits in Grand Canyon National Park:

  • Do not touch or handle the animal.
  • Contact the Wildlife Program office by calling 928-638-7752 as soon as possible.
  • Provide the following information: Date observed; species if known (cottontail, jackrabbit, other), specific location; and a photo is helpful.

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Protect Your Pets:

  • Keep dogs on a leash of 6 feet or less.
  • Do not allow dogs or other pets to interact with sick or dead rabbits, or other wildlife.

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NPS says this virus is not related to the coronavirus causing COVID-19 in humans. 

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus can be transmitted among rabbits through contact with an infected rabbit.

The virus can survive on clothing, plant material, or other items that may be accidentally moved from an infected area.

2017: Fleas carrying plague found in 2nd Arizona county

NPS asks the public to wash clothing and disinfect footwear before visiting other wild areas. Furthermore, rabbit owners should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidental exposure of rabbits to this disease. 

To report disease in wildlife throughout the state of Arizona, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 623-236-7201. For more information about RHDV2, click here.

The Grand Canyon is expanding access to its more popular South Rim entrance and planning to let visitors in around the clock next month.

The entrance station will have limited hours on Friday. The South Rim south entrance will be open 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. and visitors can stay until sunset. Then June 5 the national park will fully open.

The canyon's North Rim also will reopen June 5, although the campground will be closed for another month because of construction.

RELATED: Grand Canyon to fully open South Rim entrance in June

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