Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Culling bunnies not the answer

January 22, 2008 by Wayne Moore - Castanet.net

Don't harm a hair on Kelowna's growing urban hare population. That's the message from The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS). TRACS spokesperson, Sinikka Crosland, says there are better ways of handling the rabbit population than culling, which has been proposed as one possible solution.

Crosland says there are two issues, prevention and what to do with the current crop of loose rabbits."We're standing in support of the sterilization bylaw being tossed about by the City," says Crosland.

"We think that would be striking at the roots of the problem if unsterilized bunnies were not going to be sold in pet stores." She says people should be fined heavily for abandoning any pet. "It comes back to education. People need to know that they shouldn't be abandoning their pets. They look for areas where there are other bunnies bounding around and deposit them there."

Crosland says rounding up the rabbits, sterilizing them and finding homes for them is a more humane way of solving the problem than culling them.

She says removing the current population, estimated to be upwards of 2,000, will take time. "Finding homes is feasible with time. It's not something that we can go and clear up those streets in two weeks. There's just no way. Everybody would have to work together and we would have to adopt them out piecemeal."

Crosland says in Vernon, a rabbit rescue organization has been able to, over time, reduce the rabbit population significantly.
"They started out with hundreds of bunnies hopping around in Vernon and now they're down to dozens, because they've done an ongoing spay, neuter and adoption campaign."

The City has received a number of complaints from business owners along Enterprise Way, complaining about the damage the rabbits do to their landscaping.

Crosland believes those complaints pale in comparison to the uproar City Hall will open itself up to if the bunnies are culled.
"There are actually feeding stations there, people love them and are feeding them. There are people there that absolutely adore
them. If the City decides they are going to cull these rabbits there is going to be a great big hoopla, and not just from our group."

TRACS has stated it will prepare a report for City Council with recommendations for curbing and controlling the urban rabbit population. Crosland anticipates those recommendations will be available by early February.

Kelowna seeking help with its bunny bonanza

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Frank Luba - The Province

Bunnies have become a big bother in Kelowna. Unlike the "wascally wabbit" immortalized in Bugs Bunny cartoons, the Okanagan variety are primarily pets that have been released into the wild. They've been doing what comes naturally -- eating, defecating and reproducing.

The situation is serious enough to warrant a report to Kelowna's city council, which voted on Monday to pass the problem on to the Central Okanagan Regional District. Kelowna pays the district for animal control, mainly dealing with dogs, but now wants that responsibility expanded to the rapidly reproductive rodents and other wildlife that cause complaints.

Among the options are bylaws to prevent people from feeding the rabbits, prohibiting the sale of unsterilized rabbits, trapping and sterilizing the rabbits and, the final solution, culling them.

Killing the bunnies is unacceptable to Sinikka Crosland of The Responsible Animal Care Society. "People love bunnies," said Crosland. "They're wonderful. Why cull them if there's a humane choice?" The humane choice is to trap the rabbits and sterilize them, at $40-$60 per animal, Crosland said. "It's a huge project."

A biologist who studied the problem for the city saw about 30 rabbits in the Enterprise area last February. The number had grown to 650 by June and even higher by late summer.

Hotels and motels are unhappy their landscaping is being chewed up. Residents say their gardens are being eaten and their yards are littered with rabbit refuse. 

January 23, 2008 

Re: Kelowna's bunny bonanza 


Years of ignoring the issue of the unregulated breeding, selling, and buying of unsterilized baby bunnies has resulted in the abandonment and growing populations of these critters.  Now Kelowna is faced with trying to find a solution to its current state of affairs. Often an impulse buy or "starter" pet for a child, once the novelty has worn off and the adolescent rabbit begins to spray, chew electrical cords, or otherwise becomes inconvenient, it's time to go.  What's most effortless and guilt-free in our throwaway society is to dump the animal outdoors where survival is generally long enough to reproduce several litters.  Proactive measures, such as breeding restrictions and the end of pet store sales are cost-effective steps that will help alleviate future colonies like those in the Okanagan from springing up.  We don't need to flood the market with more unsterilized baby rabbits that in all probability will become unwanted, neglected, abandoned, or destroyed by the human hand.   

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

Rabbits wanted in Joe Rich 

January 25, 2008 by Wayne Moore - Castanet.net

A Joe Rich couple is hoping to come to the aid of domesticated rabbits which are roaming the streets of Kelowna.

The rabbits have been a problem in the Enterprise Way area for several years, however, the numbers have grown to the point where the city is looking to do something about it. It is estimated there could be close to 2,000 rabbits in the Enterprise area, with hundreds more in pockets of Ellison, Glenmore, the Mission and downtown. A number of options are being discussed to remove the rabbits, including culling.

Vicki and Mike Streeter are offering 1/2 acre of their 12 acre Joe Rich property to house some of the rabbits. "We would fence the area and build a hutch and see what would happen," says Vicki Streeter. She says her property is hilly and very well treed. "It's about as natural as you get. Everything that I've been reading, most of your regular rabbits like treed areas and we've got loads of those."

Streeter says she contacted The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS), after seeing pictures of the rabbits and hearing what their fate might be. "I don't like the idea of culling them, so I just have to hope that enough people come forward and say, hey, we'll take some." She says the idea of spaying and neutering the rabbits is a good one, but would be very, very expensive to carry out.

Meantime, Regional District Communication Coordinator, Bruce Smith, says the district's Animal Control Bylaw does make mention of rabbits. "They are considered small livestock in our bylaws and under the Farm Practices Protective Act," says Smith.

He says how many rabbits, or small livestock, can be kept on a property depends on the size of the property.
"Whether this fits or not is premature to talk about," says Smith.

Streeter says she hopes that since she has come forward, others who wish to adopt some of the rabbits will do the same.

Bunnies are "wildlife" - Video
Date: Thursday, 31 January 2008

Government red tape is hindering a plan to deal with Kelowna's rabbit problem.

February 2008 Moving day for Kelowna's bunnies may soon be under way.  An application for permission to capture the rabbits has been fast tracked by the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife.  They will then be sterilized and moved to the property donated in Joe Rich.  A Facebook group called ‘Save Kelowna’s Bunnies’ has more than 550 members and a number of rescues have all offered support.  We have donated funds for spay/neuter.  

On March 18, 2008, both the Globe and Mail, "When Easter bunnies aren't so cute", and the Kelowna Daily Courier, "Bunny conundrum: to kill or not to kill", had articles on the controversy over what to do about exploding rabbit populations. These are domesticated rabbits that have been dumped into communities once they become unwanted. With a gestation period of one month it doesn't take long for colonies to establish themselves.

Kelowna Council is busy considering all options on how to handle the bunny issue. Business owners have complained that their landscaping has been destroyed and Councillor Hobson is worried about possible crop damage. Councillor Carol Gran earlier endorsed killing as the most "common sense" approach and said the cull should be put into perspective, adding that "we kill and butcher nice little calves, cows and chickens." After meeting with some Grade 3 students she's changed her mind, feeling it would set a bad example for the kids.

The debate continues, with council expected to make a decision next month, on which program should be endorsed and paid for by the city.

Kelowna Daily Courier
Published Friday, March 21, 2008

A little caring....

Human action is directly responsible for all the abandoned rabbits in Kelowna, and elsewhere.

Initially, Councillor Gran thought that because we kill and butcher animals like calves and chickens, we may as well kill homeless rabbits as well. It took some Grade 3 students to point out this thoughtless inhumanity before she changed her mind.

And Councillor Hobson's concern is crop damage. What about compassion and some common-sense legislation that would address the breeding and selling of unsterilized rabbits?

Reactive control measures are costly, both financially and in terms of innocent lives lost. Kindness to all creatures is perhaps a lesson we all need to learn.

Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of B.C.,
North Vancouver


May 9, 2008  Please send your letters to council and help save the Kelowna rabbits!  Your voice matters!

Rabbit Advocacy’s letter to Council 

Dear Mayor and Council, 

We learned earlier today that City Staff is recommending that EBB Environmental Consulting receive the Rabbit Control Contract.  

We do not support the capturing and killing of the rabbits who call the City of Kelowna home. The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS) and Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society (EARS) both submitted proposals that would see these rabbits relocated to a sanctuary where they would be able to enjoy their lives after receiving vet care and undergoing sterilization.  

TRACS has rescued over 200 rabbits since March of this year and through a network of concerned individuals, veterinarians, and animal welfare organizations have seen that the costs of these rabbits have been met.    

Make the humane decision to have these rabbits sterilized, not senselessly killed.  Working toward prevention, such as breeding controls, education, and ending fertile rabbit sales in pet stores, would have a long-term and positive impact on reducing populations.  Lethal control measures won't work, and in financial terms will prove to be far more costly in the long-run. 

Surely Kelowna and this Council cannot afford to be known as heartless rabbit killers.   

We look forward to you reaching a decision to spare these rabbits, just like the City of Canmore did last year.



Carmina Gooch, President
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

Rabbit contract alarming: TRACS

by Wayne Moore May 9, 2008  

The City of Kelowna is set to award a contract for control the city's rabbit problem and at least one group is worried about the possible results.

Urban Forestry Supervisor, Ian Wilson, is recommending council award the contract to EBB Environmental Consulting based out of the Lower Mainland. EBB Environmental Consulting was one of six groups bidding for the contract. Their bid came in at $54,000

Sinikka Crosland, spokesperson for The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS), says she is concerned the methods used may not be humane. "This is the business that did the work on the goose program which scares me a little bit because the goose program has been lethal and there has been egg addling going on," says Crosland.

TRACS was one of the six bidders on the contact. "We are very disappointed. We launched a rabbit program in March and to date, we have 214 rabbits in our care. They were humanely caught and will be cared for in our sanctuaries." Crosland says more power to them if they use humane methods, but she is wary about that prospect. "Looking at the track record with the geese, we are concerned at this point and we would like to know more."

Wilson will make his recommendation before council Monday.

Since the program is not part of the 2008 budget, Wilson recommends funding come from the Parks' Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design budget ($30,000) and general reserves ($24,040).

City puts contract out on bunnies‘ heads

May 13, 2008 Ron Seymour - Kelowna Daily Courier

An unknown number of rabbits will be killed under a controversial bunny-control program approved Monday by Kelowna city council.
Council awarded a $54,000, one-year contract to EBB Environmental Consulting for a rabbit-control plan that includes both culling and live trapping. “Let me assure council that we‘d like to see a minimal cull,” parks manager Joe Creron told council.

Councillors Norm Letnick, Brian Given, Colin Day and Andre Blanleil voted in favour of the accepting EBB‘s bid, which was the lowest of six received by the city.

Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Coun. Michele Rule were opposed, with both saying they were disappointed with the lack of specifics in the report from staff as to how, exactly, the control program would be carried out. “The report was not very full of information,” Rule complained, and Shepherd termed it “unclear.”

Pest control supervisor Ian Wilson apologized for the lack of specifics regarding how the rabbits would be dealt with, but he said some of those details are still to be worked out.

In response to a question from Shepherd, Wilson said EBB Environmental Consulting had overseen a rabbit-control program in another city that involved the animals being killed.

Outside council chambers, Sinikka Crosland of The Responsible Animal Control Society accused the city of being “trigger happy” in its response to the rabbit situation. Society supporters have already trapped more than 200 of the rabbits, Crosland said. The group would be willing to take any rabbits trapped by EBB, Crosland suggested. “But we would expect some funding to do that,” she added, noting the cost of relocating rabbits to secure, sex-separated enclosures and caring for them for the rest of their lives.

There are said to be at least 2,000 wild rabbits in Kelowna. Most are concentrated along Enterprise Way, but colonies have been reported in other parts of the city.

The rabbits are a problem because they destroy landscaping and pose a threat to agricultural crops. Their burrowing action could also jeopardize utilities and destabilize building foundations, Wilson said.

The six rabbit-control programs were evaluated on the following basis: 50 per cent on cost, 30 per cent on the probability of success and 20 per cent on the applicant‘s experience in such matters.

Though he proposed that council accept EBB‘s bid, even Letnick said that he would rather “save the animals than kill the animals.” He proposed a second motion instructing staff to work with EBB on ways to minimize the cull and report back to council at a later date. That motion passed unanimously. Councillors Barrie Clark, Robert Hobson and Carol Gran were absent.

City fends off legal challenge to bunny roundup

May 15, 2008 By Ron Seymour – Kelowna Daily Courier                                                                              

A possible legal challenge to Kelowna‘s rabbit-reduction scheme looks to have been averted by city staff.

Four of the five firms and groups whose tenders were rejected by the city suggested this week that the request for proposals would have to be reissued. They based that assertion on a motion passed unanimously by council at Monday‘s meeting, asking staff to talk with the winning bidder, EBB Environmental Consulting, about ways to minimize the number of rabbits that would be killed.

“By telling staff to continue talking with EBB, that meant the entire process was no longer fair and open for the rest of us,” Roxanne Woldenga, one of the losing bidders, said Wednesday.

But the motion that was passed by council included an important proviso: that the city‘s purchasing manager first advise on whether further contract negotiations would even be legally possible between staff and EBB Consulting. “The advice from the purchasing manager is, ’No, you can‘t do that,‘” deputy city clerk Stephen Fleming said.

Council accepted EBB‘s low bid of $54,000 for a one-year control plan that includes live trapping and the subsequent killing of the rabbits. It‘s possible some of the rabbits will be given to groups like The Responsible Animal Care society, whose members have already trapped and relocated more than 200 bunnies. Doing so would be in EBB‘s best interest, parks manager Joe Creron suggested, since killing fewer rabbits would mean lower costs for the Lower Mainland-based firm.

But TRACS spokeswoman Sinikka Crosland says the group would need funding to provide for the rabbits‘ well-being for the rest of their lives in sex-separated, secure pens.

Crosland describes the rabbits as “beautiful, innocent, wonderful creatures,” and wonders why Kelowna‘s decision is to “kill, kill, kill. ”Between last Thursday and Monday‘s council meeting, the city received almost 50 e-mails or letters from people on the rabbit issue, with all correspondents opposed to the idea of killing the animals. 

Comment: Letters expressed the fact that council’s decision is short-sighted, inhumane, a waste of taxpayer dollars, and that loss of revenue from the tourism is sure to affect the City.  We’ve received correspondence from back East condemning the proposed murder en masse, as well as with offers of help to save the rabbits.