Lethal or non-lethal?
- Not everyone wants to save the feral rabbits, many people would prefer to see them killed, and for good reason.
- Property owners are livid about the damage and the mess.
- Taxpayers must not be too happy about the rabbits damaging city property.
- The rabbits can and will form a conduit for the virus that will greatly affect rabbit farms and hobby breeders.
- The rabbits stick close to urban areas, they can’t be shot.
- Poison will affect a large number of other species and taint the environment.
- Hired trappers and pest control companies have historically cost well over $60,000 a year alone for just a few hundred rabbits.
- Humane euthanization adhering to SPCA standards is another substantial per rabbit cost. – Even a lethal cull will cost money.
- There is no downside diverting those funds to a responsible rescue who can sterilize and contain the rabbits.
- Municipal shelters are still the key entities in rabbit control with the ability (and mandate) to take surrendered rabbits and prevent them from being abandoned.
- Animal Control is not designed to hold animals long term, however, they are designed to adopt out (or euthanize) the animals in their care so they in turn must make other arrangements for the surrendered rabbits.
- Rabbit adoptions are slow when agencies traditionally try to find indoor homes for individual rabbits, thus non- traditional methods and destinations need to be explored.
- It is not feasible or fair to ask the problem municipalities to take on the sole burden of rabbits already in the environment but they should partner with other entities.
- Rescuing and rehoming individual rabbits is not feasible given the high number of abandoned and feral rabbits. While the recently dumped, more ‘adoptable’ rabbits can be rescued and adopted, we propose rescuing and housing large numbers of feral rabbits (colonies) in ‘Rabbitats’ – habitats built specifically for rabbits.
Non-Traditional Adoptions & Relocation
- Most municipal shelters and almost all rescue groups attempt to adopt out single and paired rabbits to indoor homes, another effect of the House Rabbit Society’s strong presence.
- While rabbits shouldn’t be housed in backyard hutches, they can (and many should) be adopted to safe outdoor homes with the right criteria.
- Chicken coops, barn stalls, indoor/outdoor shed set- ups and other methods should be normalized.
- Rabbits can also be adopted out in colonies, allowing many more to be re-homed in a happier and healthier natural environment.
- Businesses, markets, developers, institutions and community projects can also house rabbits under the right circumstances, eg: rooftop gardens, community centres, schools, city parks and others positioned to take small colonies of contained rabbits.
Rabbits: An Attraction, Not A Pest!
- Events, markets and various businesses pay to rent ‘petting zoos.’ Rabbitats has developed humane ‘no touch’ stress-free methods of viewing and interaction.
- Parks containing animals are major family attractions.
- ‘Therapy animals’ are a fast growing trend.
- The rabbits can be a bonus for businesses looking to attract a customers, including farm markets, garden centres and developments. Institutions, care homes and other venues can have controlled colonies.
- City Parks can position the rabbits as a ‘hands off’ calming attraction overseen by Rabbitats volunteers.
- Developers can also incorporate low-maintenance ‘Rabbitats’ onto ‘Green roofs’, garden courtyards and other innovative projects giving them an added feature – and a lot of extra attention.
- Rabbits are most affordably and easily housed in sanctuary settings where they can be sterilized and allowed to live out their lives in large groups.
- Adoptions attempts can be labour intensive, time consuming and most often fruitless, and many rabbits don’t like humans.
- Surprisingly few sanctuaries exist, even farm sanctuaries taking rabbits are rare, largely from a lack of knowledge and education.
- Farm rabbits have been traditionally been unsterilized and housed in cage systems and pet rabbits in hutches, re- education promoting coops, stalls and well-fenced pastures is needed.
- An unknown number of larger rabbit- specific destinations stay under the radar to avoid red tape.
- Partnerships with various levels of government, businesses, environmental agencies, rescues and other sources are necessary.
- The rabbit issue falls under a myriad of categories with potential funding from environmental and stewardship programs, wildlife, agricultural, animal rescue and more.
- Businesses, property owners and stratas are willing to fund the rabbit removal from private properties.
- Invasive Species Councils and other environmental and stewardship groups recognize the need for control.
- The rabbits, an alien invasive species, are a provincial, municipal and even federal concern.
- Municipal budgets spent on fixing rabbit damage can be diverted to rabbit control.
- Once the rabbits are removed from the environment and contained, the majority of the support must come from the rabbits’ fans and not their foes.
- The City of Richmond may be dropping the ball on the bunnies, but Richmond has very progressive bylaws addressing identification and sterilization of cats, points that will also work well for rabbits.
- Kelowna and Delta are examples of municipalities who have successfully controlled their rabbits through financially supporting rescue efforts AND changing their bylaws to provide stronger controls on rabbits.
- Communities like Saanich also have progressive rabbit bylaws.
- We are also asking municipalities to increase the number of rabbits allowed on private properties to encourage people to house more rabbits in secure enclosures.
Rabbit rescues stand a better chance than governments of preventing abandonment and burgeoning colonies by peer education. They can convince people to adhere to bylaws about turning rabbits loose and feeding the feral populations. Supporting rescues can be best prevention method.