Rabbit Smoothies Help Spread Virus

(From Press in South Island,NZ,Source and date to be confirmed)

by John Keast
in Fairlie

South Canterbury farmer Philip Mackay used a home blender to mix his deadly RCD cocktails. Mr Mackay, of Streamlands Station, on Thursday admitted he was part of a group of farmers who had spread the virus in South Canterbury. He said he and Peter Innes, of Black Forest Station, mixed the liver, spleen, and heart of infected rabbits with 100ml of water in a blender. Othere used the same recipe. The potent mixture was first injected into rabbits.

The rabbits died but the spread of the disease was slow. Mr Mackay said they then mixed their concoction with bait -carrots and oats, and the virus spread quickly. On Thursday the pair summoned the Ministry of Agriculture official Ron Walker and Canterbury Regional Council chief pest inspector Graham Sullivan to inspect a pile of dead and dying rabbits at Streamlands, 30km inland from Burkes Pass.

Stunned officials were told the virus had been spread throughout the South Island and parts of the North Island. Mr Mackay said he and Mr Innes worked in secret for six weeks to perfect their mixture. Other farmers were also experimenting. They got infected rabbit organs from Otago two days after the ministry declined an application to bring the virus into New Zealand.

After experiments on rabbits on their property, the deadly cocktail was spread among trusted friends. Soon, people in other areas of the South Island were approached-cautiously and secretively. Farmers were first asked their opinion on RCD. Up to 30 farmers were involved in the South Island. Once the virus mixture was supplied, the receiver would enlist the help of other like-minded people. So began the spread of the virus -long sought by farmers in the MAckenzie and Otago. Government and council officials were amazed on Thursday to learn that the virus had been spread throughtout Otago, South and Mid-Canterbury, Malborough and parts of the North Island. Any effort to stop it would be futile because the virus would appear somewhere else.

Mr Mackay said yesterday he did not know how widespread the virus was in the North Island, but that it would appear soon on Molesworth Station, and in the Waitak. He said he was sure he and others had done the right thing in helping spread the virus. He and otheres lived in fear that they might be prosecuted under strick biosecurity laws. MAF chief veterinary officer Dr Barry O' Neil told Mr Mackay late on Thursday that he would not be prosecuted.

The Ministry was more interested in seeking those who brought the virus into New Zealand. Mr Innes told officials on Thursday that the virus was not brought into New Zealand by a New Zealander, and that it had been in the country since before the decision to ban it.

End.

From NZ email "I have also been informed farmers are going down to the Haldon road mail "Urquhart and Co in Fairlie to get the virus. When they come back they ring up people and don't say who they are. They then tell them, if they want the virus, its under the Wai Bridge in a box, they do this to avoid identification. Mr Satherwaite from Muller Station was one of the first to bring the virus into Malborough.