Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Fur flies as B.C. university's opponents block bunny cull
By Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist
VICTORIA — The University of Victoria is likely to ask the Supreme Court of British Columbia to set aside a court injunction that temporarily stops it from trapping or killing feral rabbits on campus.
University staff and legal advisers met Tuesday afternoon to consider options after rabbit activist Roslyn Cassells handed over background documents used to obtain a temporary injunction on Friday.
"UVic has retained counsel in this matter and will not discuss the litigation further while it is ongoing," UVic communications manager Patty Pitts said in a statement after the meeting. "Trapping on campus has been suspended pending the outcome of this legal action." In the meantime, the university is continuing to encourage community organizations to work on obtaining provincial permits for rabbit sanctuaries, Pitts said.
Cassells has until Aug. 27 to schedule a court hearing. If it stands, the delay means the university will not be able to use the quiet summer months to clear rabbits from around student residences. "Our intention was certainly to try and reduce the population of rabbits before the students return Sept. 7," said Tom Smith, UVic's executive director of facilities management.
The university wants to reduce the population by about 1,400 animals because of landscaping damage, droppings and the dangers posed by burrows in areas such as sports fields. About 200 rabbits will be allowed to remain within one area.
Cassells said that even though some organizations are scrambling to get Environment Ministry rabbit sanctuary permits, they are not being approved fast enough. She said that in the absence of the injunction, she believes UVic would have started trapping and killing rabbits this week.
More than $80,000 has been raised to sterilize and house the rabbits, including a $50,000 donation toward spaying and neutering them by the Fur-Bearer Defenders of Vancouver.
Susan Vickery of Common Ground, a Saltspring Island wildlife organization, is co-ordinating efforts of veterinarians who have offered to help spay and neuter the rabbits. The group is also organizing a new sanctuary at the World Parrot Refuge near Coombs, which will take up to 400 animals.
A group in Cowichan Station has offered to take up to 40 rabbits and the Wild Rose Rescue Ranch in Texas has offered to take up to 1,000. However, obtaining permits to authorize such transfers is taking longer than anticipated, said Vickery. "There is so much insistence on little details. It is really frustrating," she said.
Don Cadden, Environment Ministry regional manager for environmental stewardship, said everything possible is being done to ensure the UVic rabbit problem does not spread and that the rabbits are properly cared for. "This situation is somewhat different from the usual requests because we are dealing with animals that we absolutely don't want to spread," he said. "We are asking for additional information so we don't have this situation crop up somewhere else."
Daniel17 remarked: After all the noise UVic made about not wanting to spend taxpayers money, when they in fact were already doing so with hiring trappers and paying a vet to kill the rabbits, now they seem to have loads of money for legal fees. We all know how much Lawyers cost - a huge amount of money. Why in God's name, can't they just do the right thing and allow the rescue people to try and save as many as possible. It seems like there is some very odd vendetta type of thing happening here. You really have to wonder about the Administration of UVic. It is pretty pathetic when these old boys are hell bent on killing innocent beings - even though they have done nothing for decades. Very scary for an institution of "higher" (and I use the term loosely), education.
Comment: Rabbit Advocacy has been assisting with getting the Coombs acreage ready in preparation for the UVic rabbits. If the injunction is lifted before the 27th and the permit approved, the captured rabbits can begin moving to their new quarters. We prefer the rabbits stay in local sanctuaries for a variety of reasons, among them being transport and future monitoring concerns. There is widespread support for this plan.
August 12, 2010 the MoE has granted one permit for sanctuary of up to 60 rabbits on Vancouver Island. However, the Ministry appears to be stymieing on the requisite permit amendments for EARS. Meanwhile, work continues on the Coombs acreage in expectations that UVic rabbits will be relocated to this site.
As expected, UVic has challenged the temporary injunction to stop the rabbit 'cull.' Roslyn Cassells is to appear in BC Supreme Court on August 16, 2010. The University is asking that the Order of Madame Justice Kloegman be set aside or varied and that it be awarded costs of the application.
August 16, 2010 BC Ministry of Environment officials inspected the Coombs property today, with approval for sanctuary essentially assured. We have been working steadily to meet all requirements of the Ministry. Thanks to everybody who contacted the MoE regarding concerns over the lack of efficiency and expediency in the permitting process. It appears as if somebody has listened.
Mr. Justice Cullen has granted an extension of the temporary injunction against UVic, adjourning the case until Friday, August 20th at 10 am, giving Ms. Cassells extra time to get legal representation. Proceedings will go ahead at that time, regardless. Attorney H. David Edinger is representing the University.
August 17, 2010 We have heard that the Ministry has granted the permit for export of some of the UVic rabbits to Texas. It is valid from today until March 31, 2011. Up to 96 rabbits can be obtained at one time with no more than 1,000 in total to be acquired during the period of the permit. A number of reporting requirements and general conditions must be complied with.
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