Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Feral rabbits becoming a problem

Responsibility for dealing with bunnies is unclear

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 Paul Galinski, Powell River Peak

City of Powell River Council has concerns about the prospect of the wild rabbit population in the Cranberry area growing substantially.

Councillors reviewed correspondence from residents in the Crown Avenue area, seeking guidance or resolution to what they see as a growing and potentially dangerous problem in the neighbourhood.

“When we have complained to the city bylaw officer, the response has been that because they are feral rabbits, they are not under city jurisdiction to have them removed and to call Wildlife,” the correspondence stated. “When I called the BC Wildlife Department, they claimed that feral rabbits are not considered wildlife and they can’t help and that we are on our own.”

Marie Claxton, city clerk, said there has been some research conducted by city staff. She said the BC SPCA website had been examined and some locations have plans to deal with feral rabbits.

“Contact with the local SPCA office revealed there is no plan, funding or sanctuary for feral rabbits,” Claxton said. “What other places do is make arrangements to trap them and then euthanize them, or they can sterilize the rabbits, which costs about $150 per rabbit. We were advised it’s doubtful a veterinarian would agree to participate.”

Rabbits have been a significant problem in other communities, said Claxton. The University of Victoria and other locations have taken action by having culls. Bylaws have been put in place to have rabbits sterilized.

Claxton said rabbits are considered an invasive species and can be captured and euthanized. She added that it’s a controversial way of dealing with the problem. The Municipality of Delta spent $60,000 in April 2012 to capture, sterilize, tag and relocate hundreds of rabbits. “We are trying to communicate with the ministry that oversees wildlife to get an opinion from them on what we could do to control the population within provincial and federal regulations.”

City staff members have been in touch with Powell River Regional District because some of the rabbits are in the Cranberry Cemetery area, which is the regional district’s responsibility. “At this point, we are not talking about hundreds,” she said. “It’s much less. I think the last report was two or three dozen but it’s hard to know.”

Councillor Karen Skadsheim asked if the BC Conservation Officer Service has had any involvement but Claxton said the rabbits are not considered dangerous wildlife, which is the mandate of that office.

Councillor Maggie Hathaway said her concern is the rabbits are probably a great attraction for cougars. She said there are lots of young children that live around the cemetery area. Claxton said the city and regional district will continue to monitor the situation.

Councillor Russell Brewer, committee chair, said care needs to be taken because if it’s two dozen rabbits now, it could be a significantly larger number in the near future, and much more expensive to take care of. “I’d almost be inclined to try and do something about it now,” he said.

Mac Fraser, chief administrative officer, said the matter would be put on the city’s action list. Residents living in the problem area could be written about the matter and staff could report back to council in the fall.

Related: Some correspondence re: rabbits, reg's, abandonment, FLNRO bureaucracy; politics   

Abandoned rabbits in Ladner/Delta and Mission; relocation 2012, Env. Ministry; predation

Unwanted rabbits are everywhere; Alaska; San Juan Island; Parksville debates matter

Rabbits left to fend for themselves; the struggle to survive; Colony Farm bunnies; 100 rabbits dumped on remote Utah road 2016

Domestic Rabbit Abandonment (current contact info) - Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

Rabbit Multiplication (current contact info) - Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC