Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Rabbit trapping ends this month  

Apr 12, 2012 Rocky Mountain Outlook  

The Town of Canmore’s feral rabbit trapping contract will expire at the end of April.

Communications co-ordinator Sally Caudill said once the contract has been completed, a report will be prepared for council, including details like numbers of feral rabbits caught and the effectiveness of the program. “We are actually winding down trapping now because spring is here and there are more food sources,” Caudill said, adding as it is also springtime the trapper has indicated no lactating mother rabbits have been caught either.

At the end of the month, she said, all feral rabbits caught will have been successfully transferred to rescue groups that have fundraised money to spay/neuter the animals and then permanently transfer them to sanctuaries. As for what happens to the feral rabbit management plan next fall, the decision is up to council if it is to continue, but Caudill said it is administration’s understanding it will be renewed. The $50,000 contract, she said, has resulted in the capture of approximately 200 feral rabbits, but exact numbers will not be available until the program is completed and the report prepared.

When pushing for the trapping of the feral rabbits, the municipality and politicians relied on a population count of 2,000 bunnies being present in the community during peak population times. As for exact details of how the program has been working, including transferring rabbits to rescuers like Susan Vickery’s EARS group, the Town is withholding that information. Caudill said there has been some concern for the safety of the trapper, who has been harassed setting traps on public land and seen traps vandalized.

When the program began, threats were forwarded to the RCMP for investigation. As a result, program-specific information about how the program works is not being released.

Caudill said 130 private property owners have authorized the trapper to do the work on their land. However, she added, only 97 have been completed and any that are not reached before the end of April will be top priority in fall if the program continues.

The Town has a memorandum of understanding with Vickery and a communication agreement through which she has been asked to notify the municipality of any expected media coverage. Caudill said the agreement’s purpose is to give administration advanced notice of media interviews and coverage on the issue and is not censorship.

In March, Vickery issued a plea to help raise more funds for the Save Canmore Bunnies initiative as it costs $130 per animal to prevent them from being gassed. The attention helped her raise an additional $28,000 to see the rescuers through to the end of the contract this month.