Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Quiet kill of UVic rabbits underway  

According to a Saanich News report dated May 14, 2010, a private contractor was hired last weekend to start eliminating the rabbit population. “Havahart live traps” have been set, capturing 94 rabbits to date. The animals are taken to a veterinarian to be ‘euthanized.’  However, officials haven’t yet decided whether the carcasses will be sent to a landfill or incinerated. They are currently being frozen. Tom Smith, Facilities Management had repeatedly denied any killing or use of poison boxes on campus.   

However, the boxes are obvious and the SPCA has received many concerns regarding this matter. The agency has responded by saying that: The University has admitted that poison boxes on campus, used for rodent control for many years, may be inadvertently affecting other small mammals like baby rabbits and squirrels. Despite claims that the poison boxes are in violation of federal and provincial laws and regulations, they are a legal means of rodent pest control. Although the BC SPCA does not believe poisons are humane, under the law they are considered humane as per pest control industry and veterinary standards. Therefore the BC SPCA can not investigate animal cruelty claims for this form of poisoning, as the law recognizes this practice as legitimate and in widespread use, even though a few non-targeted species may be affected.

Is this the best an animal welfare organization with a mandate to protect and ‘speak’ for the voiceless can come up with? Where’s the compassion? The leadership? It’s always those working diligently at the grassroots level who fight for change while the large well-paid groups do very little.

In a recent instance, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced it will not go ahead with plans to kill all of the ringworm-infected animals at its Newmarket shelter.

The reversal comes after widespread outrage and criticism of the decision, announced earlier this week, to put down all of the shelter’s nearly 350 animals in an attempt to contain the ringworm outbreak. According to Newmarket MPP Frank Klees, 99 animals had already been killed when the OSPCA decided to put a halt to the madness.

Will a similar outcry bring a halt to the rabbit extermination at UVic? An excerpt from the Times Colonist, May 14, 2010 reads:

Susan Vickery of Common Ground, the company contracted for the pilot, called the cull a betrayal. “This is abusing the goodwill of everyone in the community, who assumed there was not going to be a cull until the report was out,” she said.

Animal-rights activist Roslyn Cassells said the university has lied about its rabbit killings and an international boycott of the university is gaining steam.

“These are healthy, adoptable animals,” she said, calling the cull cruel. “There is no mention of the fate of the nursing baby bunnies of killed mother rabbits. They will be starving to death in their burrows or dying from dehydration.”

Veterinarian Nick Shaw, who has offered to vasectomize the rabbits free of charge, said he’s not sure if he is still willing to be involved. “This is not a situation we wanted to see unfold. There are likely to be some significant protests that the university might have to listen to.”

Sara Dubois, B.C. SPCA manager of wildlife services, said lethal injection is better than shooting. “Our philosophy is that we don’t support a cull, but we don’t have the authority to stop it,” she said. It would be impossible to find homes for 2,000 rabbits and the real villains are those who abandoned their pets, Dubois said.

A protest on May 15 was well attended and received favourable media coverage. Afterwards, several people visited the campus, and separate from each other, came upon snares in the woods off the trails near the sports fields. Previously, poison boxes, contrary to industry regulations, were found. Sadly, four dead rabbits were discovered in the narrow perimeter surrounding the athletic fields, including one baby rabbit whose little body, still warm, lay twisted on the grass. The baby and the other dead rabbits were taken to a veterinary clinic for autopsy and toxin analysis. Our visit this weekend was equally unpleasant. Dead rabbits were in the open, and we removed one from the roadway who had recently been struck by a vehicle. We talked to a number of people who were upset and angry about the decision to proceed with a kill instead of joining forces in creating humane solutions. People are catching and removing rabbits into neighbourhoods, worried that this trapping is a precursor to shooting and a certain death.

Please write to the BC SPCA and ask that the discovery of snares be investigated as cruelty. Surely they wouldn’t be used for cats and dogs. Can you imagine walking into the woods and seeing a poor animal that had struggled and fought to free ‘itself’ from such cruelty?

Roslyn Cassells was interviewed on the Christy Clark program, CKNW, May 17, regarding the rabbit ‘cull’ taking place. Ms. Clark demonstrated her ignorance and intolerance of other species once again, and called the rabbits out-of-control pests. She seems to think humans are the only ones belonging on Earth, and has spoken out in favour of hunting many times. And she wonders why there’s so much bullying amongst kids. Not a role model, by any means. Give her a piece of your mind. clark@cknw.com 

May 17, 2010 Emotions are running high over this issue, with an evening confrontation between the company hired to remove the rabbits and some activists. Numerous traps had been set in areas outside of the athletic fields, despite assurances by the administration that only rabbits around the sports fields would be targeted. Campus security, police, and Tom Smith, Facilities Management made up part of the crowd. Protesters were asked to leave, but didn’t. UVic is situated on Crown Land, and freedom of expression is a right in Canada. For information on this topic look up the BC Trespass Act and then search the phrase “colour of right.” The evidence is mounting that we’ve been lied to all along, with the real agenda being to rid the campus of the rabbits and other wildlife in order to proceed with their mass development plan that is well underway. One way or another.  

While rabbits are being captured and removed to areas off campus, this can have unintended consequences. Rabbits stress very easily and being taken to an unfamiliar habitat can be problematic. Trapping alone is a traumatic experience. Security asked one individual to release rabbits already trapped for transfer. As the rabbit kill progresses so does the controversy. What solutions are there and on what factors do we base our decisions? Does it make a difference if so-called pests are cute? Please keep writing! 

CBC TV 6 pm news report (May 19) on the rising controversy over UVic’s rabbit kill.

May 24, 2010: On our visit this weekend to UVic we joined a small group of activists in a walk to raise awareness on the current status of the campus rabbits. The topic was also discussed on CKNW's,The World Today. Tom Smith, in speaking for the University, made it quite clear that the future of the rabbits is bleak.

Too Many Rabbits? PSA 2010

Read more: Rabbits escape sanctuary; killed by neighbour. Another attack; EARS deficient