April 24, 2023
PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) advises small game hunters that reductions in the daily bag and possession limits for cottontail rabbits, as well as the initiation of daily bag and possession limits for jackrabbits, become effective July 1, 2023.
In response to the impacts and lingering effects of the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV-2), with localized incidents still occurring throughout the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently voted to lower the bag limit for cottontails from 10 to five per day, and the possession limit from 30 to 15 (of which no more than five may be taken in any one day).
The decision extends to the much larger, lankier jackrabbits — both black-tailed and antelope — of which there are no bag or possession limits. While not designated as game animals, hunters only will be allowed to harvest two jackrabbits per day, with a possession limit of six (of which no more than two may be taken in any one day), beginning July 1.
RHDV-2 is highly contagious among lagomorphs (cottontails and jackrabbits) and is spread by physical contact with bodily fluids, fecal material, and even remains. While the meat is safe for human consumption, AZGFD encourages hunters to remove carcasses from the field and bury the remains deep enough to discourage coyotes and other scavengers from digging them up.
“Since lagomorphs are a primary prey base for almost all carnivores and raptors, we want to allow them a chance to bounce back in those areas where they were most severely affected,” said Dr. Larisa Harding, the department’s small game program manager. “If hunters harvest a lagomorph, burying the remains helps to limit the spread of RHDV-2 on the landscape.”
Within Arizona, RHDV-2 has been identified in Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Pima, Apache, Navajo, and Coconino counties. AZGFD continues to investigate mortalities in new areas and asks that reports be made to the Wildlife Health Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Radio Room (623-236-7201). For more information, visit www.azgfd.com/wildlife-conservation/wildlife-diseases/.
Arizona hunters can harvest cottontails and jackrabbits year-round. A valid Arizona hunting or combination hunt and fish license is required for all hunters 10 and older. Those hunters under 10 must either have a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license, or be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license. Licenses can be purchased online or at license dealers statewide. A youth combination hunt and fish license (ages 10 to 17) is $5.