Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Rabbit trapping pace hopped up thanks to public co-operation

December 12, 2012 Dave Husdal, Canmore Leader  

The pace of feral rabbit trapping late this fall in Canmore is up over last winter’s pace, with the contracted trapper capturing 129 rabbits from when the fall campaign started in late October to the end of November, according to Canmore protective services manager Greg Burt.

That works out to a pace of close to six rabbits per day, and Burt is crediting greater co-operation from property owners for helping increase the pace from a little over three per day early in 2012.

He told town council Tuesday that approximately 200 more property owners have signed access agreements to allow for trapping this fall. Roughly 100 had signed agreements for the trapping season that started in early 2012.

Unlike in the winter, when all the rabbits that were live trapped were turned over to an animal welfare group, the rabbits live trapped this fall have been euthanized, said Sally Caudill, the town’s communication co-ordinator. The vast majority of rabbits trapped early in 2012 eventually found homes on sanctuaries.

The information on euthanizing those trapped this fall wasn’t specified in Burt’s written report to council, which indicated: “As of Nov. 30, 129 feral rabbits have been trapped and removed from the community… .” Trapping efforts have focused on areas of high concentration of feral rabbits and requests from property owners.

According to Burt’s report, the trapping contractor has advised the town that with the existing trapping program and budget, good control of rabbit numbers may be achieved in two to three years, “however it could take up to five years to reach the point where the majority of feral rabbits have been captured.” According to Burt’s report, “It is very unlikely we will ever completely eliminate the feral rabbit population.”

The town has budgeted to spend $50,000 on rabbit control in 2012, and the draft 2013 budget has contemplated $60,000 for trapping from January to March and October to December.

While the rabbits have long been an enemy to gardeners and landscaping enthusiasts, their status as a wildlife attractant has led the town to take action against the cute, fuzzy publicity magnets. Their status as media stars has also discouraged the town from a more aggressive rabbit-culling program using methods other than live trapping. Killing rabbits in the field also comes with increased safety hazards.

While live trapping is showing signs of reducing rabbit numbers, council members appeared interested in potential other approaches, with Coun. Hans Helder offering: “I’m just wondering if we’re the author of our own issues.” Coun. Sean Krausert went further. “My sense is, if this wasn’t cute little rabbits, if it were rats, we’d get right to the heart of the matter pretty darn quickly,” Krausert said.

Council heard that while property owner co-operation is up, some people are still feeding the critters, helping them survive the harshness of winter.

Comment: Finally some figures on the numbers exterminated. “Euthanasia” is a euphemism often used inappropriately to hide the truth – in other words, to mislead and soften the reality of a situation.