A feral rabbit relaxes by the curb in the town of Canmore. Photo by Jon A Ross.
Earth Animal Rescue Society (E.A.R.S.), the group that organized the transportation of over 200 feral rabbits from the Canadian town of Canmore to permanent sanctuary homes last year, is at work again. The town is still trying to manage a booming feral rabbit population which they say attracts coyotes and cougars to the area. Recently, they have begun trapping and gassing the rabbits.
Susan Vickery of E.A.R.S has found a couple with a farmhouse northwest of Calgary who can provide permanent sanctuary to 50 rabbits.
“They’ve had a lot of dealings with rabbits themselves over the years,” Vickery said Tuesday. “They enjoy them. They know their nature. And they respect their right to live.”
One former Canmore bunny recovers from spay/neuter surgery at Edmonton’s Southside Animal Hospital.
Last year, the Canadian town of Canmore, located about 60 miles west of Calgary, had a big problem. Abandoned pet rabbits had bred with each other and caused a feral rabbit explosion. Town officials initially planned to cull the rabbits, but a public campaign and the Earth Animal Rescue Society (EARS) made it possible to sterilize them and relocate them to sanctuaries.
From January until April, the town of Canmore trapped and sterilized hundreds of feral rabbits. These rabbits are now happily living in local sanctuaries.
EARS plans to break from the trapping for the summer and resume in October to catch the remaining rabbits.
Canmore, Alberta has been home to an overabundance of feral rabbits for nearly 30 years. Recently the town council contracted Animal Damage Control to cull the rabbits starting November 14.
The feral population exploded after pet owners released their domestic rabbits into the wild. Although domestic rabbits usually do not survive on their own, these did. And the rabbits produced more and more offspring until the population reached its current estimated total of 800 rabbits.
These feral rabbits damage property and attract wild predators into neighborhoods and therefore must be removed from the town. However, local rescue group Save Canmore Bunnies, headed by Kyndra Biggy, would like to impose a different solution than a cull. Their plan is to round up the rabbits, spay/neuter them, and then relocate them to bunny-friendly sanctuaries. But this costs money. The group needs to raise $100,000 in order to put their plan into action. If you would like to donate money, veterinary services, or sanctuary land, visit the Save Canmore Bunnies Want to Help page.
Save Canmore Bunnies has estimated it will cost $130 per rabbit.
The University of Victoria decided today that instead of maintaining a population of 200 rabbits on their campus, they will relocate all of them. To date, 823 rabbits have been relocated to sanctuaries in British Columbia and Texas. Currently, 50 rabbits remain on the grounds, and they will be relocated within the next few weeks. After March 1st, any rabbits who are abandoned on campus will be euthanized. Campus officials hope this policy will discourage people from irresponsibly dumping their pets.
Laura-Leah Shaw of the Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS) has spearheaded the mission to relocate the feral rabbits who’d made UVic their home for years. She has personally driven vanloads of rabbits down to the Wild Rose Ranch in Texas and has taken out a $25,000 line of credit to fund the relocation project. If you would like to support TRACS, make a donation at their website.
The tiny island of Okunoshima was once home to a major poisonous gas facility for the Imperial Army during World War II. The island, only 4 kilometers in circumference, had even been removed from Japanese maps for a period of time for security purposes. Once the war ended, the island was deserted. In 1971, a teacher from the nearby city of Takehara abandoned the school’s pet rabbits in Okunoshima. Now, the island is host 300 feral rabbits.
With 2011 being the Year of the Rabbit, many tourists are making their way to the little island to see the furry inhabitants.
About forty feral rabbits captured from the UVic campus are destined for Wild Rose Rescue Ranch in Texas. The rabbits were spayed and neutered over the weekend by Dr. Joseph Martinez of Little Paws Animal Clinic, who volunteered his services.
Another sixty rabbits were also captured and will be placed in local British Columbia sanctuaries.
A trap set on the UVic campus for the feral rabbit population. Photo Andrew Allen.
Martlet.ca posted an article that summarizes the situation up to date about the feral rabbit population inhabiting the UVic campus.
Basically, the pilot program to trap the rabbits, spay/neuter them, and then rehouse them was cut short due to a permitting issue with the Ministry of Environment. According to a UVic spokesman, the sanctuaries set to take in the rabbits were unwilling to go through the process to get this special permit.
So UVic cut the program short and began to cull the rabbits on May 8.
Now, two groups are working towards a solution to this feral population boom. Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority are trapping the rabbits and finding them homes after Sydney University Veterinary Teaching Hospital spays/neuters and vaccinates them.
According to Dr. Deepa Gopinath, senior surgical teaching registrar at Sydney University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, “The desexing of the Dawes Point Park bunnies has been invaluable for our students as they experience hands-on surgery and it has been great to be actively involved in this very necessary community welfare project.”
Athletic Fields at the University of Victoria have been damaged by about 150 feral rabbits, causing a potential hazard for student athletes. As a result university officials have decided to round up the rabbits and have them sterilized and relocated.
The school hired a wildlife damage-control company to remove the rabbits to an animal sanctuary.
The plan is to create rabbit free zones around the school and reduce the rabbit population to a manageable level.
The New York Times has reported another feral rabbit boom- this one is taking place in Okaloosa Island, Florida. Florida pet owners seem to have a bad habit of letting their pets run free. Rabbits are a new addition to a list that already includes iguanas, pythons, and peacocks.
Although many Okaloosa residents initially viewed the growing feral rabbit population in a lighthearted way, when the rabbits started causing damage to shrubs and other property, attitudes changed.