Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


City issues another permit to shoot rabbits 

June 10, 2010 Niyaz Pirani, The Orange County Register

Mission Viejo officials have given the go ahead to homeowners association in a gated community here to control its rabbit population by shooting the animals with pellet guns. The permit was issued to Palmia, a community of 901 homes near the city's northeast border. It's only the second one issued by the city; Casta del Sol first requested to be allowed to shoot rabbits in 2005, a move some residents protested at the time.

Under the permit, which is reviewed every two years, shooting is only allowed 30 minutes after sunset and thirty minutes before sunrise. The HOA must hire a professional company to shoot the rabbits and that shooting can only be done in open space when people are not present. The sheriff's department must be notified on those days.

In Palmia, just as in Casta del Sol, rabbits have chewed patches of lawn down to the dirt, eaten through flower beds, and damaged areas with urine and droppings.

"When you plant a petunia, the next day it's gone," said Jon Goettsch, a member of the HOA board. "We're trying, obviously, not to plant that stuff and to replant with non-rabbit-friendly plants. The majority of the damage is in the yards where they eat the grass right down to the dirt. Rabbits hide in a lot of our vegetation out here. It's a pretty serious problem."

Goettsch reported multiple complaints a day from homeowners, and said that a "large majority" of residents supported shooting the rabbits. "If it was a small issue, we would have tried to take care of it another way," Goettsch said. "(Casta del Sol) has eradicated 50, 60, 70 percent of rabbits, so now they can grow some grass and get things looking good."

In Casta del Sol, a company was hired to control the rabbit population, a move 25-year resident Bonnie Laird said was the right move. The association there was spending more than $50,000 per year to replant after trying non-lethal means to deter the rabbits, according to the HOA.

"They were eating any kind of pretty flower, they just ate them as soon as you put them in the ground ... I had four huge brown spots on my lawn, and I stopped planting anything but succulents and cactus" she said. "(The population) has decreased, I would say, because this year, so far we've only seen one, which is unusual."

Only one person spoke against the permit at the council meeting, 14-year old Reid Barraza, who does not live in Palmia. "I like plants ... but to even think to kill an animal to preserve that disturbed me," he said before requesting the use of non-lethal means, including dusting the plants with chili powder.

The council listened to his concerns before unanimously voting in favor of the permit. Mayor Trish Kelley explained to Barraza that bunnies might be cute, but they can be destructive as well. "Even though you're not agreeing with the decision we might make tonight, thank you for coming," she said.

Comment: The public is becoming increasingly outraged as archaic lethal control is used to kill whatever species of animals gets in the way of humans. Never mind that our population has exploded exponentially, and that we’ve ruthlessly destroyed the homes and habitat of millions of creatures everywhere. We do not have this right and it’s time our consciousness awakens to this fact.

Carmina Gooch of the Rabbit Advocacy Group wrote to Mission Viejo officials, the Palmia Homeowners Association, and the newspaper. We received this form reply on June 18th from the City:  

Hi Carmina, 

We are always open to new ideas for reducing the rabbit populations in our retirement communities. However, we have tried just about all of them know to man. Others have suggested spay and neuter, but spay and neuter is not an option. It would be like spaying and neutering a rodent, like a rat or gopher. The bigger question is who would pay to have this service provided to hundreds of rabbits, and if you spayed 500 rabbits and missed just two the problem would continue.

Just an FYI –

1. Only experienced exterminators are authorized to do the shooting
2. Only 1/2 hour after sundown and 1/2 hour before sunrise
3. When this service is being performed the sheriff must be notified
4. When any residents are near pellet gun must be put down
5. All exterminators must wear bright orange vests.

There are a couple other restrictions I can't think of at the moment.
The rabbit numbers in these areas are huge. They ruin grass, flowers, shrubs and leave droppings that smell and look like small marbles that are absolutely everywhere. They make their homes near residents windows and when they die of natural causes they put-off a very bad odor. You mention some other way other than killing them, these rabbits cannot be used or sold as pets as some than diseases. They also cannot be "relocated" as there are hundreds of them.
Other forms of extermination like poison, cause too much risk to other animals. When poison is used it's a long death and you only find them after they begin to smell.
If you have any ideas, please pass them on.
-Dave Leckness, Mission Viejo Mayor Pro Tem 

Note: A response was given that included looking into immunocontraception and closed with:  I hope you will give these suggestions some thought and set a good example by employing non-lethal solutions. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, lethal measures are costly, ongoing, and will not solve this dilemma.   

It cannot be emphasized enough that: "There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is." Isaac Bashevis Singer 

“If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.” Francis Bacon

August 2, 2010 We have contacted decision-makers again, (as well as the OCR) as we received news that the shooting has begun. Please let them know that: Hiring assassins to shoot these little creatures is unnecessary, cruel, and unacceptable. Please demonstrate the hallmarks of a compassionate and progressive leadership and call off this shameful and archaic extermination NOW. People have to learn to live in harmony with nature and to respect the lives of other species instead of being the ruthless destroyers that we are. (part of Carmina Gooch's e-mail of 8-3-2010) 

The online petition opposing the slaughter has been closed by the sponsors in order to present it to the "right people." Evidently the 'debacle' is underway without the consensus of all the retirement community residents, and there’s been an outcry.

June 12, 2014 Rabbit shootings trigger petition: 'They're exterminating wild animals'

Comment: With so many non-lethal alternatives available, it’s appalling that in these times animals are being exterminated for trivial human nonsense such as eating plants. Show some compassion - leave them alone! Their lives matter.

Rabbits abound in Regina

Wednesday, May 5, 2010  CBC News

A booming rabbit population is behind an increase in property damage reports, Regina pest control officers say. While no official headcount has been conducted, city officials acknowlege the animal is enjoying favourable weather conditions, and people are more likely to see them, especially in groups.

"It is spring mating season for the rabbits," Wade Morrow, Regina's manager of pest control, told CBC News in a recent interview. "That's one of the reasons you may see a few more rabbits, kind of together in groups, this time of year." Morrow added that the animals can go through a lot of plant material.

"Once they start feeding on trees or shrubs or even gardens, a big jackrabbit can eat quite a bit in a day," Morrow said. "Once you get several large jackrabbits together in the same area they can cause quite a lot of damage in a short period of time."

Morrow said non-toxic repellants can be sprayed on precious plants. The repellants do not hurt rabbits, but the animal will be discouraged by the bitter taste. Morrow also suggests a physical barrier, such as chicken wire, to keep rabbits at bay.

Calgary abounds with bunnies

June 21, 2010  By Jan Simonson, Calgary Herald

The population of Calgary's wild rabbits recently has increased to a point where they seem to be popping up and hopping just about everywhere.

Apparently, they have benefited from an adequate food supply, favourable weather and lack of natural predators. And unlike other wild animals that find their way into the city, such as coyotes, porcupines, skunks and even moose, rabbits are relatively harmless to property, people and their pets. Consequently, we generally tolerate them. Nonetheless, the white-tailed jackrabbit's ability to thrive in an urban environment is impressive, considering it has to avoid human harassment, cross busy streets to find food and shelter, and does not hibernate or migrate during the winter months when food and water are scarce.

Calgary's wild rabbits exemplify life's capacity to adapt and thrive in new and different settings.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for many species of wildlife in Alberta and other parts of Canada whose habitats are irreversibly changing or being destroyed by urbanization, industrial development and intensive agriculture. Strategies to protect biodiversity are sorely needed.

Regina's rabbit population control program suspended

February 14, 2019 CBC News

The rabbit population control program in Regina has been suspended. Regina had rabbit traps out in areas where the rabbit population was deemed problematic. In some cases, they took rabbits to "a remote location" and destroyed them, the city said.

On Thursday morning, a city spokesperson confirmed that the traps placed in Harbour Landing had been removed. The statement reads: "This is to advise that the two-week pilot project has been suspended because traps are being tampered with." The city would not confirm if the suspension is temporary or permanent. 

Culls not the way to go: wildlife biologist

A Saskatoon wildlife biologist says Regina's strategy to reduce its rabbit population could backfire. "As soon as you stop removing them, what happens [is] you've now produced a condition that's very good for the animal and they have higher birth rates and higher survival rates," John Polson, a wildlife biologist in Saskatoon, said.

Polson uses a catch-and-release method in Saskatoon and said culls usually don't work. "The population sometimes actually increases and is higher than when you started." The city began its rabbit control program, catching 27 animals. It released 10 and destroyed the other 17.

Russell Eirich, the City of Regina's manager of forestry, pest control and horticulture, said Tuesday that they haven't caught any this year but that it would be difficult to simply catch and release the rabbits in neighbouring rural municipalities. "I don't think it's responsible … to offload our problem onto them," he said. 

Regina said it protects the trees by wrapping them. Polson said that is a good strategy.  "It just makes so much more sense to protect the tree because there's other animals too that will nip at the trees," he said. Polson also said that an increase in rabbit population wouldn't draw more predators to the city. 

Be sure to read about rabbit abandonment issues, bylaws, actions, and much more on our Pet Shops/Rabbits/Legislation page
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Lethal control is archaic, ineffective, and costly. It may be legal, but there's a high cost to society morally.
Reducing pathways to abandonment.

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