Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters



Deceptive City Parks officials use incomplete, biased and exaggerated information to hijack council meeting

The City of Kelowna had the opportunity to choose compassion over killing. Instead they fell victim to the deceptions and exaggerations presented to them by City Parks on May 12, 2008. Amongst the fabrications were:

EBB Environmental Consulting, the company chosen by city staff to address the feral rabbit overpopulation (by lethal means), would provide the best value with their bid of $54,000 for one year. Correction: TRACS had submitted a bid of $44,000 for the first year. However, we submitted figures for years two and three as well (an additional $28,000 for year two and $26,000 for year three). We simply don't believe that any company or organization will be able to capture every single free-roaming rabbit in just one year. Ongoing abandonment accounts for at least some of the rise in population. City Parks conveniently forgot to clarify to Mayor and Council what TRACS had really submitted, and why.

City Parks claimed that rabbits kept alive would represent a 15-year care commitment. Correction: According to experts, rabbits live for five to ten years on average. Oldtimers of 15 years are not the norm. Nutrition-compromised feral rabbits would be at risk of an even shorter life span. Deceitful! And that's not all.

In response to heavy questioning from Mayor Sharon Shepherd and the five council members present, Ian Wilson, Urban Forestry Supervisor for City Parks, stated that EBB could possibly look at non-lethal methods, such as giving captured rabbits to rescue groups, placing them in sanctuaries, etc. These suggestions represented another deception, deviating from EBB's stated method of dealing with caught rabbits--"culling". (Please note that culling is just another word for killing. Exterminators use this word to make their killing practices sound more acceptable.)

Ian Wilson and Parks Manager Joe Creron did not divulge what method would be used to kill the rabbits. They said they didn't know. Common killing methods accepted by the B.C. Ministry of Environment are gassing and dry ice. City Parks should have exercised honesty and clarity by detailing kill methods to Mayor, Council, media and the public in attendance. If they didn't know what methods are used, they should have done the research and shared their findings. That would have been the right thing to do.

Note what happened next at this legislative Gong Show. Councillor Norm Letnick moved that EBB Environmental Consulting be hired to do the job. This motion passed, with Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Councillor Michele Rule opposing. Next, Councillor Letnick moved that, pending advice from the Purchasing Manager, council would "direct staff to work with EBB Environmental Consulting to minimize any potential for culling and report back to Council". This motion passed with flying colours. Councillor Letnick then commented that he would never have made the first motion had he doubted that the second one would pass. There was just one little problem, though. The Purchasing Manager had an issue with the second motion (what power she wields), and it was ultimately not approved. EBB ended up with the contract, and the bunnies got a death warrant, despite efforts by Mayor and Council to provide some protection to them.

TRACS is greatly troubled by the deceptions, discrepancies, misdirected power and poor management displayed at the May 12th council meeting and during its aftermath. Once again, innocent animals have been ensnared in a bog of bureaucracy. It is clear that City staff runs the show and makes decisions--not Mayor and Council.

What You Can Do to Help the Bunnies:

Mayor Sharon Shepherd and her council have 30 days to bring the issue back to the table. The fate of Kelowna's rabbits rests with them and any changes they can make, including cancelling the contract with EBB. Please write to mayorandcouncil@kelowna.ca or phone the Mayor's office at: 250-469-8687. Ask them to do the right thing and place the Kelowna feral rabbit issue back on the agenda for consideration. It's the least they can do after naively believing what City Parks had to say.

EBB Environmental Consulting has signed the contract, and extermination could begin any day now. Adults, babies, nursing mothers (with tiny newborns left alone in the warrens) will be victimized. This is cruel and unjust. EBB's contact information is: phone 604-219-2412; e-mail: busby@ebbconsulting.org . Ask them to re-visit their usual practices and NOT use lethal means on these innocent animals. Tell them that killing rabbits is not acceptable in Kelowna, and that their public image will suffer as a result of using these methods.

If there is such a thing as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, then City Parks gets the prize for Ugly. Ian Wilson, Urban Forestry Supervisor, and Joe Creron, Parks Manager, need to take some time out to learn that honesty, kindness and good ethics really do pay off. Phone: 250-717-2757 or e-mail Mr. Wilson: IWilson@kelowna.ca .

Eyes are needed in the community. Please watch out for EBB using live traps to capture rabbits. TRACS welcomes video footage of any animal welfare violations.

There is an election pending in Kelowna this fall, and advocates are calling for the introduction of animal welfare as an election issue. To date, Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Councillor Michele Rule get full marks for their compassion as well as their wisdom in rejecting the EBB proposal. The usually well-intentioned Councillor Norm Letnick did sadly make a huge error this time, ultimately signing a death warrant for the rabbits with his motion. Councillor Carol Gran was not present, but previously she had supported non-lethal means and appears to be kind-hearted. Kelowna residents, please stay tuned for more details later in the year from a citizens' group wishing to organize a political public awareness campaign from the animals' perspective. The momentum is on to help create a compassionate community.

Kelowna tourism may suffer if potential visitors become aware that the City has hired rabbit killers. Who would want to vacation in a community that responds with a heavy trigger finger against various species of animals? Beavers and geese have also been targeted over the years in Kelowna (again, courtesy of City Parks). This is the contact information for Tourism Kelowna: info@tourismkelowna.com

For the rabbits,
Sinikka Crosland, TRACS

May 14, 2008 

Kelowna Capital News
Kelowna Daily Courier



It seems as though Kelowna City Council is running scared of the rabbits, given their vote to endorse a $54,000 management plan proposed by the low bid EBB Environmental Consulting. Maybe it was the plethora of buildings with undermined foundations, or the rampant destruction of utilities that made them vote that way...after all, we've all seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa which no doubt was caused by a hitherto unknown warren of superbuns out to wreak havoc and mayhem. Or maybe not. 

What I find disturbing is the fact they have voted in favour of a plan which, according to The Kelowna Daily Courier article of May 14th, is significantly lacking in specifics. They want Joe Q Public to pay $54,00 for what, then? I don't know, you don't know, City Council doesn't know and heavens! - maybe even EBB doesn't know. 

However, given EBB's past track record which apparently includes a whole passel of dead bunnies, maybe another issue to consider here is how exactly EBB plans to kill two thousand bunnies. Victoria Hospital had their bunny population shot, and I imagine this is the way EBB will want to go.  

It's labour intensive and useless over the long run, but it sure looks good for a short period of time. Until, that is, more buns get dumped by irresponsible owners who have been sold rabbits by equally irresponsible pet stores who make a quick buck (and then a dead buck) marketing their cute Easter buns as easy starter pets, fun for all the family, a great snack if you get tired of feeding them, or a suitable target. I don't know why the local pet stores and breeders just don't paint day-glo targets on their rabbit stock. It would no doubt make EBB's job a lot easier (but likely no cheaper). 

Sue Collard
Surrey, BC

Would council take same action against those responsible for city’s rabbit problem? 

May 18, 2008 Kelowna Capital News

To the editor: 

After the strong opposition from the public denouncing the proposal to have Kelowna’s rabbits killed, what astounds me is that a few decision-makers have the power to carry out an ill-advised scheme that won’t work.

It’s a total waste of taxpayer dollars, it’s inhumane, and it’s contrary to what any civilized society would even consider.

What’s next, killing off the human population because we’re the ones responsible for this situation?

That would make more sense—at least those responsible would be held accountable.

Carmina Gooch
Terry Roberge
North Vancouver 

May 15, 2008 

Kelowna Capital News
Kelowna Daily Courier

Dear Editor, 

What is the matter with people?  These rabbits didn't choose to be dumped outdoors so why should they become the victims of irresponsible human action, and then of an equally heartless council?  Council and city staff certainly can't be that daft to see that having rabbits massacred in the hopes of reducing populations makes absolutely no sense. As long as there are no proactive measures, such as introducing breeding regulations and stopping sales of fertile baby rabbits in pet stores, there will be no end to the expanding colonies.  Also, there will be no end to squandered taxpayer dollars as well as loss of revenue from the tourism industry once word spreads that Kelowna is murdering bunnies.  

Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
North Vancouver

Growing opposition to proposed killing of Kelowna rabbits

May 20, 2008 Kelowna Capital News 

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

As a former, long-time Kelowna citizen, I am appalled by your recent decision to start killing the rabbit population in the Dilworth area.

While the TRACS organization had found a solution to deal with this problem in a way that seemed to be a much more humane and sensible way of dealing with defenseless animals, it seems that Kelowna's City Council is once again into the old ways of killing for no good reason at all. I vividly remember the City's wish to cull the geese, the beavers, and how many bears were shot on numerous occasions by your over-zealous conservation officers. Who's next on the culling list? The deer? The moose? The coyotes?

Not the crocodiles living in a residential Rutland area who probably are still allowed to procreate in a basement...

I lived in Dilworth for many years and have been aware of the expanding rabbit population, like many people, including City Council, but nobody particularly cared.

Now living in the Greater Vancouver area, I have become familiar with the large populations of rabbits, raccoons, coyotes, sea gulls, rats, mice and people.

Kelowna is just small fry compared to what is going on here. Yet, we all live together here and so it should be in a city like Kelowna.

Live and let live should be Kelowna's strategy, rather than cull anything resembling an animal that you think is residing in too large numbers, in particular an animal species that has no intention of hurting anyone!

The Okanagan is in the so-called Bible-belt of B.C. and the religious fanatics and pro-lifers seem to thrive there and have obviously read in the Bible that we can kill at will anything but people??

I think it is time that the people of Kelowna, i.e. the decision makers such as you, decide to become a more humane group.

We have started to call Kelowna Cullowna and that is the name that befits your City as long as you see nothing wrong with this absurd culling of animals that should have a right to live.

N.B.: As is always the question: Where, oh where is the S.P.C.A. when an extermination of animals is planned??

Shame on all of you in Kelowna if you allow this rabbit holocaust to happen!

Madelon Keij
Surrey, BC

May 26, 2008 another letter is sent to the Kelowna press. 

On May 25, 2008 two of us went to Kelowna to see first-hand for ourselves what all the fuss was about with regard to the expanding populations of feral European rabbits.  We spotted quite a number of both adult and baby bunnies, in the area of Dilworth and Enterprise Way.  My main concern was the safety of these rabbits, as they were quite near the road.  As to the businesses whining about their landscaping and gardens, I would say most had nothing to be proud of. 

After the unsightly and numerous billboards obliterating the landscape upon entering the city, the homeless, and the run-down lodging near the industrial area, I really think council would be better off reallocating the $54,000 for EBB to snuff out the rabbits, toward other projects.  

Carmina Gooch 


Comment:  A protest to help save the rabbits is planned for 9:00 am on May 31st at Dilworth and Enterprise Way.  As part of our excursion to Kelowna, we also stopped at Petcetera.  No rabbits were for sale in the store, but other BC locations, like Penticton, are still selling fertile baby bunnies supplied by breeders.  SPEAK OUT AND TAKE ACTION TO SAVE LIVES!
There was a huge turnout for the rally on Saturday to save the Kelowna rabbits.  However, Mayor Sharon Shepherd said the contract with EBB Environmental Consulting has already been signed and that council won't likely reconsider their decision at a meeting to be held on June 9.