Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Kelowna’s rabbits exterminated under cover of darkness

Comment: There’s tremendous outrage over the execution of Kelowna’s feral rabbit population.  Despite overwhelming support to save the rabbits, through deceit and bungling by city officials, EBB became the hired killers.  Calls and letters to EBB have been largely ignored.

Kelowna rabbit cull underway

September 15, 2008 / 3:00 pm
by Kelly Hayes & Rachael Kimola - Story: 41802 Castanet online news

The rabbit cull has begun in Kelowna.

An anonymous call was placed to The Responsible Animal Care Society’s (TRACS) Sinikka Crosland Sunday, saying the cull of rabbits has started. “I received an anonymous phone call indicating that there is a retired RCMP officer out there shooting rabbits in the middle of the night. I’ve checked with the RCMP office in Kelowna and they tell me that this guy does have a permit, so he’s allowed to be out there. But we have many, many concerns that he’s out there killing rabbits,” says Crosland.

She says one of their concerns is that there is no humane officer accompanying the retired RCMP officer.

“The fellow is a retired RCMP officer, but he’s not necessarily trained in animal welfare. We have concerns about lactating mothers, I’ve been trying to find out from EBB directly if the fellow is checking each female rabbit before he shoots to make sure she’s not feeding young. If he does kill female rabbits with young in a burrow somewhere, then that’s a death sentence for the babies and that’s very cruel, to leave babies rabbits suffering, starving in the burrows.”

Crosland says she was expecting a call from EBB, the company hired by the City of Kelowna to handle the cull, before any rabbits were shot. “They simply didn’t let us know, I waited and waited for word that they were starting the cull. We were told by the city that we would be informed before the cull started. There was no negotiation, no time to sit down at the table and iron things out. People are very upset.”

She says TRACS’ campaign to rescue the rabbits is going well.  “We just wish we had more money to get the rabbits away before EBB’s hired gun kills them. We are adopting bunnies out as well and we have more people coming forth to foster.” Crosland says they have more than 300 rabbits in foster homes or at the sanctuary.

Bunnies being felled by air gun

September 19, 2008 Don Plant, Kelowna Daily Courier 

A contractor hired to trim Kelowna‘s feral-rabbit population has spent at least two nights shooting the animals with an air rifle.

Ian Wilson, the city‘s urban forest supervisor, confirmed Wednesday a retired RCMP officer has used a night-vision scope and a human spotter to fire pellets at the rabbits as recently as last week. “There‘s been some initial work done with an air rifle at night,” Wilson said Wednesday. “We haven‘t revealed when or where things have happened because of threats made against (the contractor) and employees and their safety.”

Animal-rights activists are upset that EBB Environmental Consulting, the Delta firm hired by the city to remove the feral rabbits, has apparently decided to forego more humane options, such as live trapping and lethal injection. They‘re worried that lactating mothers have been killed, leaving their babies to starve.

“It‘s a cruel act,” said Sinikka Crosland of The Responsible Animal Care Society. “I‘ve got people on the phone crying, they‘re so upset. They‘re saying ’We‘ll go out and do some surveillance.”

A message left on EBB‘s voicemail wasn‘t returned Wednesday afternoon. Crosland is also trying to reach the company without success. Supporters tell her they‘re upset baby rabbits and “their favourite rabbits they‘ve been feeding” have disappeared, she said.

The contractor told Wilson on Wednesday that it plans to live-trap the rabbits and “won‘t do shooting for a while,” Wilson said.

Trapping the animals is difficult this time of year because there‘s abundant food and it‘s hard to attract them with bait, Wilson said. Now the contractor is switching tactics. “There will be live trapping. There are no plans in the immediate future for shooting. Some of the animals will be provided to the local SPCA for adoption,” he said.

When the shooting resumes, Wilson said he‘s confident it will be safe. The former officer has worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service, is well-trained and uses one or two spotters to ensure no people are at risk, he said.

Health officials in Victoria hired someone to shoot hundreds of rabbits that invaded the grounds of Victoria General Hospital in 1999.
“It is very humane, a very quick way of putting down an animal,” Wilson said. “This is not a BB gun. It (the air rifle) could be used to put down a coyote.”

TRACS volunteers have live-trapped about 320 rabbits in recent months and sent most of them to foster homes. About 20 are living in a pen in Joe Rich.

Despite the effort, the city continues to hear complaints about rabbits chewing up lawns and digging into flower beds in Glenmore, McKinley Landing, near the airport and South Kelowna. Wilson estimates up to 1,000 rabbits are living outside. At least one orchardist planted new trees this year, but the rabbits are destroying them, he said.

An Australian study found rabbits contribute to global warming because they browse on native seedlings, preventing woodlands from regenerating naturally. “We want to, as humanely as possible, get things back under control,” Wilson said.

Getting a straight answer

To the editor: (Castanet online news) September 19, 2008
RE: Kelowna rabbit cull underway

What does it take to get a straight answer from Mayor Shepherd, Ian Wilson, the City's urban forester, and EBB Environmental Consulting senior Biologist, Oliver Busby? On June 5, 2008 the BCSPCA sent a letter to city council voicing their concerns about recent reports that inhuman methods of killing were being proposed. In part the letter states that,

"EBB has confirmed that they will use one of three methods to kill the rabbits:

Injecting them with dry ice,
Drowning them,
Gassing them."

BCSPCA confirmed, upon consultation with the BC Veterinary Medical Association, that the above killing methods are not acceptable and may violate provincial and federal humane legislation.

I'm sure that Mayor Shepherd and Ian Wilson would be happy to provide a copy of that letter to the media. Apparently the concerns of the BCSPCA and other animal rights groups were of no concern to city council. Upon pressure from the public and animal rights groups to reveal the methods EBB would be using Mr. Wilson granted an interview to Castanet, (see Castanet story #41121 dated Aug 13,2008.)

Rabbit cull methods revealed

In that article, Ian Wilson with the City of Kelowna said that three methods would be used. He claims that the first method would be live trapping followed by providing the live animals to rescue groups and wildlife shelters. Tell me Mr. Wilson, exactly how many live rabbits has EBB trapped and to which organizations have they been given?

"The second one is live trapping followed by lethal injection, which is akin to putting an animal down in a veterinary facility." He makes no mention of what type of lethal injection would be used and who would be administering that injection. Since EBB is already on the record stating that they use dry ice then I must assume that that is what they will be using. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "the use of dry ice to kill an animal would cause significant suffering."

The third method is the use of an air rifle. Mr. Wilson claims that he is unsure of what projectile would be used. Isn't it your job Mr. Wilson, to know exactly what, when and how EBB would be handling the "job" you and mayor Sheppard are paying them to do?

Why would city council approve of the methods that would cause these animals undue suffering and pain? Why wasn't TRACS informed the cull had begun? What is city council and EBB afraid of?

I submit to you that city council and EBB do not want the public to know what methods they are using because they don't care that the animals may be suffering, they just want to be rid of the problem.

Val Schewe - Kelowna

Surrey Now
Published: Friday, September 19, 2008

A whole city full of rotten tomatoes to the City of Cullowna, formerly known as Kelowna, which has chosen to shoot the rabbits that have been living there for years - thanks as always to the stupidity of people who should not be allowed to own rabbits.

The saddest roses of the whole summer to the animal organization that tried so hard to protect the rabbits by finding them sanctuaries and saving them from such unnecessary slaughter.

Another heap of rotten tomatoes to the SPCA for once again not preventing that kind of cruelty to animals and, yes, rabbits are in fact animals! I guess the SPCA only protects stuffed animals/rabbits these days!

Stay of execution for Kelowna’s surviving bunnies?

September 20, 2008

According to a September 19th CHBC TV report, “the shooting of Kelowna's feral rabbits may be over now, and an animal rights group may get its turn to try and deal with the problem.”

There is some cautious optimism that the huge public backlash against the city hiring EBB to exterminate the bunnies will give TRACS the opportunity to humanely capture, sterilize, and remove them to safe environments. There has been tremendous support from a wide network of individuals, animal advocacy groups, and businesses to save these critters.

The public has spoken. Hopefully the message has been heard, loud and clear, at City Hall.

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver (also posted on Animal Advocates Watchdog)

Comment: The BC SPCA confirmed in June, upon consultation with the BC Veterinary Medical Association, that injecting the rabbits with dry ice, drowning, or gassing them are not acceptable killing methods and may violate provincial and federal humane legislation. 

If nursing females are being callously snuffed out, dependent baby rabbits will slowly die of starvation in the warrens, contravening the Cruelty Act, Sec. 446.  If the shot rabbits do not immediately die, this too would be considered cruelty.

Also, releasing domestic rabbits into the wild is a criminal act under the Criminal Code of Canada and an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act. 

Carmina Gooch writes to BC SPCA

Bunnies: shoot'em and leave 'em?

To the editor: (Castanet online news), September 21, 2008

It's bad enough that City Hall ignored less cruel options that were available regarding the rabbits - now they hire an ex-cop to work at night, shooting them and the guy isn't removing them once he's done target practice? He's leaving them to rot and for people to come across?

This is disgusting!

Everyone has their opinion on the rabbits and clearly City Hall was comfortable with choosing the most expensive, quickest, and most cruel method but this is crossing the line to having NO ethics at all.

Perhaps we should gather up the bleeding, shattered rabbit bodies and dump them on the lawns of the killer and of the Mayor and see if they still think it's a good idea for them to be left behind.

Don't leave the remains of your dirty work for other people to have to see! Knowing it's happening is bad enough.

Yvonne Perry - Kelowna

Kelowna's feral rabbit population

To the editor:
Re: EBB’s Rabbit Kill
To: Mayor Shepherd and Council
Cc: Ian Wilson, Lesley Driscoll

Mayor and Council:

How outrageous of the City of Kelowna to approve the hiring of EBB to annihilate the feral domestic rabbits and their offspring from certain areas of the community. This has been a controversial and contentious issue for many residents, animal advocates, and others, who find it unfitting in today’s society, that lethal methods would even be considered an option, when humane proposals from other groups were put forth. TRACS bid came in under EBB’s and has widespread support.

EBB, on the other hand, has been less than forthcoming in the information they provided, and it’s now revealed that an air-rifle has been used to exterminate the rabbits, their third method on the list. Working with rescue groups to place the captured rabbits was the first option. Why haven’t they kept their word? City officials certainly didn’t do their homework before awarding this outfit the contract. Clearly, in light of the horrific information that barbaric methods of killing by injecting the rabbits with dry ice, drowning, or gassing them were part of the plan, it’s a company operating without scruples. Is council endorsing cruelty and suffering to animals? Why the lack of openness and accountability to its citizens by informing them of such a hare-brained scheme?

Going out under the cover of darkness to stalk and kill the victims of a human-made “problem” is not only cowardly, it’s clear that this type of secrecy has the public seeing red. Taxpayer money has been squandered on lethal methods, which all research has proven, is ineffective. Shooting won’t get rid of rabbits. Rabbit prevention strategies and techniques, such as exclusion barriers like fencing, tree wrapping, and habitat modification are workable, as are planting garlic, catnip, or lavender, since rabbits are repelled by the scent.

Research being done at a number of institutions like Murdoch University in Australia indicate that genetically engineering plants like tobacco and clover will help reduce rabbit fertility. Closer to home, research at a Halifax University, scientists have developed a feed that sterilized deer (and possibly rabbits) for 10 years with a single feeding.

Education programs and bylaws that would restrict the breeding and selling of intact rabbits are essential to a multi-pronged approach that would incrementally and humanely reduce rabbit populations. Pet stores, the source of impulse buys, must immediately cease selling baby bunnies and breeders of “show animals” should be required to license their “stock.” Addressing the sources, and implementing proactive measures, will yield positive results. As will the reporting of people who dump their pets.

Considering all the available help and network of people willing to work in a collaborative effort to save the rabbits, it’s time for council to move forward, and get on track, a track that is ethical, humane and respectful of all its inhabitants.

Sincerely,

Carmina Gooch, President
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

www.rabbitadvocacy.com
North Vancouver


Posted to http://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story--10-.htm : Sep 23, 2008 / 5:00 am (sent to Council on the 21st)
Story# 41962 / Contributed (link no longer active)

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Comment:  There’s a federal election in October and a civic election in November.  Make animal welfare an election issue.  Help stop cruelty. Contact your candidates!

Culling of rabbits in Kelowna sparks police probe

RCMP investigating allegations of animal cruelty
Monday, September 29, 2008 CBC News  

Police are investigating allegations that the way hired contractors cull feral rabbits in Kelowna constitutes animal cruelty.

Kelowna city council contracted EBB Environmental Consulting Inc. in May to eliminate about 2,000 rabbits following complaints that the animals had swarmed the city's lawns and parks in recent years.

Gwenda Garrett, a security guard working in the city, told CBC News on Monday that while on patrol Saturday morning, she saw a man shooting a feral rabbit, then two people stomping on the animal's head."The bunny was flopping around on the grass and a female got out of the passenger side of the truck. She went over to where the bunny was. She stomped on it really hard four times," Garrett said.

"It was still flopping around because it didn't die yet. Then the driver of the truck went over and stomped on it twice and it still didn't die. And then he crouched down and I believe I watched him break the rabbit's neck."She reported the case to Kelowna RCMP, who are investigating to see whether there is evidence of animal cruelty.

"Because there is a section of the … Criminal Code that deals with cruelty to animals, we will be looking at it solely from that perspective and deciding whether or not enough evidence exists to satisfy [the] Crown that a charge should be laid," Const. Steve Holmes said. "It all has to do with the interpretation of how the bunnies met their fate and the method used, and obviously, to people it appears to be very inhumane."

Municipal forester Ian Wilson said the city is looking into the case, adding that the workers from EBB were just doing their job. One method being used to cull the rabbits is to shoot them with an air gun, he said.

"They use this high-power rifle that would kill the animal instantaneously, [but] there is sometimes a little bit of twitching or movement in the animals," Wilson said. "Normally, with a single shot, it does put down the animal quite quickly and humanely. I think that's the definition of humanely, as quickly and with as little suffering for the animal as possible," he said.

EBB said the rabbit in question was dead or close to death and its muscles were twitching, so the worker simply broke its neck to finish the job.

The city is spending $54,000 on a one-year contract to get rid of the animals.The B.C. SPCA has said that while it doesn't condone the killing of animals, the rabbit situation in Kelowna is a huge problem.

Note:  Sign up to post a comment  http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/09/29/bc-rabbit-killing-cruelty.html (link no longer active)

While we recognize that being anonymous attracts a certain element, it's sometimes worth posting, nonetheless.  Be an advocate for the rabbits, and publicize their plight.  All animals matter equally.     

Rabbit stomping shocks witness

September 30, 2008 Daily Courier Staff

A rabbit was stomped to death on the weekend, but the head of the company hired to cull them said that was an unusual action that was taken to put the animal out of its suffering. The incident was witnessed by security guard Gwenda Garrett at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“I was sitting across the road in my vehicle, just watching,” she said. “I heard the sound of an air cartridge go off, and then I saw a rabbit start to flop around on the grass on the front area of the Western Star lawn. I watched as a female exited from the passenger side of the truck, then stomped on the rabbit four times with her boot. The rabbit continued to flop around.

“The male driver of the truck got out and walked over to the injured rabbit, and he stomped on the rabbit twice. He then crouched down, and I believe I watched him break the rabbit‘s neck.” Garrett said the man, who didn‘t give his name, told her the woman in the truck was his daughter.

Oliver Busby, head off EEB, which has been hired by the city to control the rabbit population, said this was an isolated incident.
“Only one incident happened,” he said. “The rabbit was mortally shot, and it did not suffer. Our technician made a judgment call to make sure the rabbit was put to its end as quickly as possible.

“This is not a regular occurrence. I trust what our crew did, and it was the right action.” He said the feral rabbit population has turned out to be larger than expected. “We are also live-trapping, but we‘re just dealing with too many animals,” he said. “No facility is available to look after them all. This is an issue created by people abandoning their rabbits. That‘s the most inhumane act out there.”

Garrett said she isn‘t satisfied. “My tax dollars are being spent to pay someone to cruelly kill the rabbit population,” she said. “I also don‘t think that the people from City Hall who have hired this company are aware of their killing methods.” No one from the city was available for comment. Police have received a complaint from Garrett and say they are investigating the possibility of laying cruelty-to-animal charges. 

September 30, 2008

To: Mayor Shepherd and Council
Cc: Lesley Driscoll, Ian Wilson
Re: Rabbit cruelty by city's hired contractor

Mayor and Council, 

There's widespread outrage over the current news of a rabbit being stomped on multiple times before having its neck broken by the hired contractor for the City of Kelowna.  Firstly, EBB should never have been awarded the contract, and now the concerns raised by animal welfarists and the public regarding the killing methods have proven to come true.  An air rifle will not guarantee a "clean kill" and when you have an inept shooter, there's bound to be pain and suffering, not a quick and humane death.  I wonder if any of you can imagine being killed in this manner.  I sincerely hope there is enough evidence for animal cruelty charges to be brought forward under the Criminal Code of Canada. 

Despite Mr Busby's assertion that the rabbit was mortally wounded and did not suffer, I don't believe it.  Writhing around on the ground and being kicked in the head before having one's neck snapped, indicates a gruesome and inhumane end.  Is this how Kelowna deals with its unwanted pet population?  After all, these are rabbits of the European variety, companion animals and their offspring, that have been dumped outdoors.  Bred and sold as pets, just like cats and dogs. 

I strongly urge council to call off this senseless slaughter before further victims meet their fate in such a way.  Who knows how many more met their end under similar circumstances. 

Sincerely,

Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
www.rabbitadvocacy.com
North Vancouver (this was one more of a number of letters sent to various outlets)

Bad News!  We've just learned that the RCMP will not be pursuing charges against the shooter and that EBB's method of murder may be switched to clubbing.

Read more: Fury over rabbit stomping

Outrage over Kelowna's rabbit extermination; some letters, use of air rifle, SPCA

Kelowna's bunny-eliminator short of cash, B.C. gov't creates complications; TRACS bunnies today, 2016