It seems rabbits are thriving all over the country, and it seems Hawkes Bay is the new destination. Rabbit populations are bouncing back from calicivirus, and in some cases in numbers not seen since records began. The usual subjects like Otago and Canterbury are prominent but Hawke’s Bay, is experiencing an unprecedented rise in numbers. The official count is 13.7 rabbits per kilometre which is the highest number since records began in 1996, and double the 2018 figure of six. Hawkes Bay now has a more rabbits than the Mackenzie Country which is “ground zero” for rabbit decimation. The calici virus was introduced in 1997 and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council catchment services Manager Campbell Leckie says the virus seemed to work for 15 years but numbers started tracking up as rabbits developed immunity and was helped by a drier climate. Rabbits eat a lot of grass, reducing the pasture for stock, and their burrows and warrens create hazards for people and stock. They cost more than $50 million a year in lost production, plus $25m in pest control.