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
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.
Some correspondence re: rabbits, reg's,
abandonment, FLNRO bureaucracy; politics
Abandoned rabbits in Ladner/Delta and Mission; relocation 2012, Env.
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