Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Action on Parksville rabbits called unlikely 

July 6, 2012 Auren Ruvinsky, Parksville Qualicum Beach News 

While Parksville considers what to do with invasive rabbits, the experts see it as a lost battle. 

Like gray squirrels, American bullfrogs, rats and starlings, Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre believes it is simply too late to deal with the rabbits that are flourishing up and down Vancouver Island. “If there’s a solution I don’t have it, and the government certainly doesn’t have it,” Campbell said, adding that he is personally against killing them, “it’s not the rabbit’s fault.”

He does point out that the sentimental attachment people get to some invasive species that happen to be cute makes it much harder to have rational public policy discussions.

“It’s sad people get so worked up, would it be the same if we were talking about a dangerous spider,” he asked throwing in other more problematic species like snapping turtles and the snakehead fish recently found in a Burnaby pond. “People understand the effect of climate change on the environment, they see that a clearcut can affect a whole species, but they don’t get that a certain plant or animal species can do the same thing.”

Conservation officer Steve Ackles explained that the European rabbits found on the Island are officially considered invasive, non-native species and are listed as Schedule C, which means they can be captured and killed anywhere, as long as they are dealt with humanely and following the hunting regulations.

Contrary to rumour, there are no native rabbits on Vancouver Island, only ones that have been introduced as pets and then let go or escaped. Ackles said the only time they would deal with a call about rabbits is if people were killing or disposing of them in an unsafe manner.

Carmina Gooch of the Rabbit Advocacy Group of North Vancouver wrote to __The News expressing the argument against measures like a cull. “These animals were abandoned by irresponsible and thoughtless owners, and now some vocal and uninformed residents want these animals to pay the ultimate price? I suggest that officials consider non-lethal measures only. A perceived quick fix in the name of a kill is costly, both morally and financially, ineffective and ongoing.”

She also pointed out that while they may not be native, they are now part of the ecosystem and eradicating them would impact the species that now eat them. She would rather see “common sense, proactive measures like enforcement, licensing or regulating breeders.”

Ackles agreed that the rabbits play a role in the food chain but wasn’t as positive pointing out they are a favourite snack of things like eagles and other large predators that you don’t necessarily want hunting in residential neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile Parksville city staff are currently working on a report with options for council to consider and the B.C. Ministry of Environment suggests wire fencing, fungicide repellents or licensed pest control companies for people dealing with a particular rabbit pest problem.

Robin Campbell is pessimistic, suggested that Parksville can pass bylaws, but without a coordinated provincial strategy, individual municipal bylaws would be like declaring themselves a nuclear free zone, little more than a symbolic gesture.

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