Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Bunny contractor short of cash 

January 30, 2009 Wayne Moore - Castanet Story: 44731

The company hired by the City of Kelowna to eliminate the city's feral rabbit population is quickly running out of cash.

EBB Environmental Consulting was awarded the contract, worth about $54,000, back in the spring of 2008.

City Urban Forestry Manager, Ian Wilson, explained to City Council two weeks ago, that the contract was a result of a Request For Proposal (RFP) and not a tender. He says through the RFP process, once the money is gone, the contract is over. Through a tender, the contract ends when the job is finished.

At that meeting, Council asked Wilson to urge EBB to step up live trapping of the approximately 150 remaining rabbits, with the goal of re-location. Council also wanted staff to look into involving local animal advocacy groups and determine an additional cost of live-trapping and re-locating the remaining rabbits.

In a new report, which will come to Council Monday, Wilson says EBB has stepped up the trapping program, capturing an additional 36 rabbits over an 11 day period. "However, EBB also estimates the remaining budget in their contract will only allow them to continue trapping for about three more weeks," says Wilson in his report. "Staff have asked EBB for an estimate of costs to extend the contract, if desired."

Wilson says he has received those costs, but prefers to wait until he has a chance to discuss the numbers with council before releasing them. In his report, Wilson also indicated a number of animal advocacy groups were contacted.

He says The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS), was the only group willing to help with live-trapping as well as housing. He says TRACS would accept 150 rabbits at a cost of $11,500. Wilson adds a petting zoo in Keremeos also indicated it would welcome up to 150 rabbits.

Should council decide it wished to partner with one or more groups, Wilson says it could be addressed at final budget in regards to taxation.

January, 2009 The B.C. Ministry of Environment imposed strict reporting requirements and other regulations on TRACS, once the group began trapping rabbits themselves, rather than have the contractor, EBB kill them.  Pens built to house the rabbits had to meet specific criteria, but lo and behold, their guidelines didn't work.  A large pen, endorsed by the Ministry, wasn't escape-proof.  Therefore, additional expenses were borne by TRACS as they went about rebuilding. 

Also, the rabbits weren't to be moved or adopted out without government permission.   However, once it was discovered that nobody was overseeing EBB, TRACS stopped reporting.  The MoE is being contacted regarding the matter, as its requirements aren't necessarily followed by the general public, other agencies, or even local government.  Ian Wilson, Urban Forestry Supervisor for the City of Kelowna, found out that the City had breached the Ministry's requirements by allowing rabbits to be given to rescue groups and the SPCA for adoption. 

These rabbits and their offspring are domestic, of the European variety, the same ones that can be purchased from pet stores or breeders.  They have been abandoned by people who had them as pets and dumped them outdoors.  Sometimes they are picked up as strays and brought to rescue groups or humane societies for rehoming. 

This situation has been nothing short of a debacle, and is representative of government inaction on animal welfare issues.  Rules and regulations for rabbits are hopelessly outdated and unclear, offering little or no protection for these creatures.  Unfortunately, the SPCA hasn't done much, if any, speaking on their behalf, either. 

For more information, please contact us. Be a voice for change, locally, provincially, and federally! Write to government officials.

Note: The above Castanet news story indicates that there were no offers of assistance from other groups, other than TRACS.  Our group, as well as several others have offered our services to the city. Read more

February 1, 2009 

To: Mayor Shepherd and Council
     Ian Wilson, Urban Forestry Supervisor
Cc: Castanet

Dear Mayor and Council, 

As President of the Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC, I am writing to correct misinformation that was in a January 30, 2009 Castanet news article.  Ian Wilson is quoted as saying that TRACS was the only group willing to help with live-trapping and housing of Kelowna's rabbits. 

My most recent e-mail to Council and Mr Wilson, dated January 21st, clearly states that while our group can only accept a few rabbits at no expense to the City, my husband and I are willing to continue to help support TRACS financially, in addition to directing funds to the City for any arrangement Council may make in working with rescue/advocacy organizations like TRACS. 

I ask that you avail yourselves of our offer of help and look forward to hearing from you.  We can work together and save the lives of the remaining rabbits. 


Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

Comment:  Kelowna Council met on February 2nd to discuss the ongoing rabbit debacle.  Evidently people are still freeing rabbits trapped by EBB, and some property/business owners are refusing to let traps be set up on their land.  The City and EBB have also been receiving threatening phone calls and some e-mails.  Of course, what else would they expect?  People from all over have been expressing their outrage since day one.  To date EBB has murdered over 600 rabbits, with 67 killed in the last two weeks!  The Responsible Animal Care Society, Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC, Vernon Rabbit Rescue, and Warren Peace Bunny Sanctuary have come together in a partnership to prevent any more rabbits from being exterminated.  Our initiative, consisting of a short and longer term plan, will be presented to Council in the next week.

Rabbits subject of 'hate mail' 

February 3, 2009 by Wayne Moore – Castanet Story: 44793

Kelowna citizens for and against the capture of feral rabbits in the City are being encouraged to 'chill out.'

Councillor Charlie Hodge asked that threatening calls and emails stop during a debate on how to proceed after the current contract with EBB Environmental Consulting runs out. "I have some real concerns with the response by some of the public. I've received some phone calls and some emails," says Hodge.

"I would ask the public to be cognizant when they are making these intimidating phone calls, especially to our staff that the people here are doing their best to solve this problem. I wouldn't say its militant groups as much as it is individuals that are perhaps going way over the edge in terms of threats and insults."

City Forestry Supervisor, Ian Wilson, says EBB has also been receiving threats after the company requested using air rifles again, saying it was more effective and less costly than trapping. "In recent discussions with them, and I know they had suggested that two weeks ago, they have gotten a lot of hate mail to put it nicely," says Wilson. "They are a little more reluctant to go back to that."

In a detailed update for Council, Wilson says 654 rabbits have been trapped and relocated or killed to date. He says about 67 of those were trapped during the past two weeks. "Most of those were euthanized because we were unable to find immediate homes for them, however, I asked EBB to keep some of the animals alive in cages and well fed in hopes we may be able to find homes for them in the very near future."

Wilson says EBB has enough money left on its contract with the city for about three more weeks. While he says it is reasonable they could trap another 60 rabbits, he estimates there are about 100 to 150 rabbits remaining. He says those are conservative estimates and does acknowledge some new pockets have recently been discovered.

Wilson did receive an estimate from EBB on costs beyond the conclusion of the contract. Figures he presented to council include:

  • Trapping 50 rabbits - $5,780

  • Trapping 100 rabbits - $11,560

  • Trapping 150 rabbits - $17,341

With a short time remaining, Councillors showed concern over what could happen if the rabbit population were allowed to replenish itself.

Councillor Graeme James urged returning to the more effective air rifle as originally proposed by EBB, however, that option was discounted by the rest of council. "Like I said before, I have spoken with the agricultural community and they are concerned. We now have rabbits on Glenmore Road in the Kane Road area and I can attest that if you see 150 rabbits there are a lot more in the bushes," says James. "I just can't see wasting taxpayers money on more trapping."

Councillor Robert Hobson wanted the process to play out before making any further decisions. "I feel we have agreed to this course of action, and it's coming to an end in the next few weeks. We are seeing considerable progress, so let's see where we go," says Hobson. "I'm not ruling out any option once the contract is up as far as I'm concerned."

Wilson told council he would return once the contract is up with further updates. At that time, Council will likely set the next course of action.

March 9, 2009 update: EBB's contract expired March 4th, but has been extended for two weeks to live trap only, while quotes are gathered for a new contract, worth $20,000.  It would provide $5,000 for education and $15,000 for ongoing rabbit control, "including live trapping and/or culling, with a goal of eliminating the remaining population." Only 22 rabbits have been counted recently, although there may be up to 100 still running around.

March 27, 2009  City Council is expected to award the contract for the on-going monitoring and control of feral European rabbits within the City of Kelowna to The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS) for a one (1) year term in the amount of $11,550.00 excluding GST, when it meets on Monday.  The remainder of the $20,000 budgeted for the project will go towards a public education plan.  TRACS was the only bidder.

March 31, 2009 TRACS was awarded the rabbit maintenance program for one year.  However, it was with reservations that several councillors gave their approval.  Councillor Hobson expressed concerns that the rabbits might escape from their pens and wanted assurances that TRACS wouldn’t be asking the City for additional funding.  Councillor Graeme James was worried about the ability of TRACS to spay and neuter the rabbits, and fearful there might be a future “outbreak.”   Both councillors would rather have seen the rabbits exterminated, their attitudes exemplifying a cold-hearted and outdated approach to animal welfare.  Meanwhile, Councillor Brian Given commented that "since TRACS is now a contractor for the city, I would like to see us make sure that TRACS does not speak for the city.  Any communication must be funneled through the city and their communications department. I don't want them speaking on behalf of the city on their website now that they are a contractor for the city."  TRACS has to remove a few comments that were critical of the City from its website.

January 2013 TRACS volunteers are kept busy with the rabbits rescued in 2008. The largest sanctuary houses just over 400 rabbits and as years went by they were in constant need of repair. Fundraisers were held, and enough money was always raised to keep renovating. What was needed, though, were new pens. Then some great news in May of last year – the Vancouver Foundation approved their grant application and the project was underway and completed in August. TRACS and the bunnies would like to thank everybody who made this possible.  

July 20, 2013 75 rabbits in need of new home

August 5, 2013 update: The rabbits are still looking for a new home on private property in Kelowna. TRACS vet clinics are located within the city.

December 2013 The Kelowna rabbit sanctuaries have an excellent team of volunteers and a network of companies that work together, keeping the facilities in great shape and the roughly 700 rabbits well cared for. These rabbits were rescued from the streets in 2008. Now that’s success!  

Rabbit Advocacy was involved in this project, which included bringing a few of the rabbits to our sanctuary in North Vancouver.  
(sadly, for a great many of the UVic rabbits relocated to Coombs in late 2010 & early 2011 there was no happy ending)  
If you would like to support TRACS and the bunnies visit: http://tracs-bc.ca/

June 9, 2016 Exiled rabbits down by half

Comment: Rabbit Advocacy also participated in the Kelowna rescue, receiving ten rabbits in November, 2008. The majority lived happily in our home for five years or more, with three of them still with us today. 

Contrast this with the UVic campus rabbits relocated to Coombs in late 2010 to early 2011. Roughly 75% of the approximate 550 were dead within three years, many within the first year! Betrayed by Susan Vickery, Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society (EARS) operator, whose narcissism, negligence and deluded reality caused so many premature deaths. According to her, the surviving 147 animals were moved to a location in Alberta in the summer of 2015.

Unfortunately, Vickery discouraged volunteers and others willing to assist with day-to-day operations. The BC SPCA, government officials, and others were notified of ongoing problems, yet she was allowed to carry on.

Animal rescue is unregulated, leaving it wide open for the good and bad to operate. As a society, we need to do much more to protect the vulnerable, non-human species who rely on us for their well-being and survival. Never look the other way or be complacent – silence and denial are barriers to justice.

 “Perhaps you notice how the denial is so often the preface to the justification.” Christoper Hitchens

Read more by visiting our Pet Stores/Rabbits/Legislation page