Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
In the cross-hares
Thursday, July 15, 1999 The Province (Vancouver, B.C.)
VICTORIA -- The grounds of Victoria General Hospital are going to sound more like a war zone than a place of healing next month.
That's because the health region has decided it has no choice but to shoot as many as 700 rabbits that are roaming the grounds of the hospital, located in a rural area on the west side of Victoria.
Capital Health Region spokeswoman Lianne Peterson said yesterday the rabbits have become so prolific they're becoming a potential hazard to health and the environment. Rabbit feces can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease and spotted fever -- and the amount of rabbit poop is now so high it's being regularly tracked through the corridors by visitors.
Although so far there's been no evidence of disease coming from the rabbits, that's not an acceptable situation in a hospital, she said. As well, the rabbit burrows are so numerous as to be undermining paths, sidewalks and even parking lots.
A wildlife biology consultant hired by the region concluded that between 500 and 700 rabbits are now living on the grounds. They produce about 2,000 new little bunnies yearly, although the mortality rate is as high as 90 per cent.
The bevy of rabbits started with people who irresponsibly dumped pets they didn't want any more on the grounds. The situation is made worse by others who feed them -- everything from proper rabbit pellets to food scraps.
The health region concluded shooting was the only viable alternative. Ideas for sterilizing them proved to be too expensive and impractical.
The local SPCA supports the eradication program, but Peter Hamilton of LifeForce says shooting them could create "a cruel and bloody scene," and he's hoping to find homes for at least some of the bunnies if they can be trapped.
U.S. groups poised to rescue B.C. rabbits
Monday, August 9, 1999 Vancouver Sun
VICTORIA -- News of the plight of hundreds of rabbits at Victoria General Hospital has spread to the United States. "Everyone's talking about the rabbits on death row," said Sandi Ackerman of the House Rabbit Society in Seattle. The society is an international non- profit organization that rescues, neuters and finds homes for rabbits.
Hospital officials say the 700-plus rabbits that make their home on the facility's grounds are descendants of abandoned pets.
Last month the hospital announced it would shoot the rabbits because their disease-causing feces, which have been tracked into the hospital, are dangerous for staff and patients.
The society has presented hospital officials with a proposal, Ackerman said. "We will trap and ship the rabbits back to Washington. We just need volunteers and a temporary shelter."
Capital Health Region spokeswoman Lianne Peterson said the region likes the idea of moving the rabbits to Washington state. But it wants to ensure all the ramifications, including liability, are examined before approving the plan.
Hospital gives shoot-to-kill bunnies order
February 1, 2000 The Province (Vancouver, B.C.)
Animal lover Erin Quinney couldn't believe it yesterday when she heard that Victoria General Hospital had started shooting the rabbits infesting its grounds. "I'm fed up, because I tried hard," said the disappointed Sooke woman, who in September took it upon herself to save some of the rabbits.
The hospital spent $6,000 last year for a biologist's report that concluded exterminating Peter Cottontail and his cousins was the only way to deal with the potential health problems posed by the population explosion.
Quinney came forward, the hospital issued a moratorium on the proposed slaughter and she trapped 350 of the 500 to 700 rabbits estimated to be hopping around the grounds leaving mounds of feces. The rabbits are thought to be the result of people dropping off unwanted pets.
Quinney, who lives on 1.2 hectares and has 200 other rescued animals, has found homes for 150 to 160 rabbits and would take the remainder if given more time. But with spring and breeding season approaching, time ran out for 30 to 40 rabbits that were killed during four "test" hunts in the past two weeks.
No more hunts are currently scheduled, said Capital Health Region spokesman Andrew Mordan. A biologist, accompanied by an SPCA representative, did the deed with a pellet gun equipped with a special "scope" that allows a user to see in the dark.
Quinney, who trapped 15 more rabbits yesterday, thinks she can do a better job -- and without bloodshed. "If it took four nights to get 40 and it took me four hours to get 154, I'd say my numbers are better," she said last night.
Animal advocates LifeForce also objected to the hunt.
Don’t bump off the bunnies
Wednesday, Feb 2, 2000 The Province (Vancouver, B.C.)
(Photo from Victoria Times Colonist) These bunnies are just two of hundreds in the crosshairs of a controversy over how to get them off Victoria General Hospital grounds. Most readers feel the nuisance critters should be caught, not shot.
I support Erin Quinney's efforts to save the rabbits on the Victoria General Hospital grounds. They should give her a chance to save as many of the rabbits as she can. It's just another example of bureaucratic idiots making decisions without consulting members of the general public who may have another solution to the problem. Stacy Kessler, North Vancouver
I'm very upset that this would be the easy way out, to pull out a gun and shoot these beautiful animals. They have a right to live just as much as we do and I think there's a much better solution. I'm sure there's many, many families that would love to have a little bunny in their house and in their yard. That would be a much better solution than to just shoot them. Derrick Olding, Chilliwack
I remember many times going to that hospital and seeing the rabbits. They should leave the rabbits alone. Get rid of some of them but keep as many as they can. They bring some comfort to a sometimes very uncomfortable situation. Colleen Christiansen, Delta
Unpublished: I'm absolutely appalled that Victoria General Hospital is going through with the threat to exterminate those cute creatures. Erin Quinney and her hard working group have done a marvelous job of rounding up more than half of them now. Given more time I'm sure she can save the rest. How is it that the hospital is supposed to be saving life inside and taking life outside? Maybe the life of these rabbits would mean more to the hospital if they had a medical plan. Terry Roberge, North Vancouver
Global T.V. Comment: I think it's absolutely deplorable and disgusting that hunters are going to be allowed to kill the rabbits at Victoria's General Hospital while inside they are busy saving lives. Terry Roberge, North Vancouver
Global T.V. Comment: Poor innocent rabbits being killed at Victoria's General Hospital is inhumane and unnecessary.
Erin Quinney and other rabbit lovers are doing their best to round up the bunnies and find homes for them. Too bad callous human beings find it so easy to dispose of the lives of these lovely creatures. Carmina Gooch, North Vancouver
The Vancouver Province,
Our family is absolutely disgusted and sickened by Victoria General Hospital's decision to senselessly snuff out the lives of the rabbits inhabiting their grounds. These innocent creatures ended up there through no fault of their own. How callous and cowardly to go in after dark with guns equipped with a special scope, when they have no chance at all. We thought hospitals were supposed to save lives, not destroy them. Hopefully this decision will be rethought and caring individuals like Erin Quinney will be allowed to continue rescuing them and find loving homes for them. They certainly deserve the right to life. Carmina Gooch, North Vancouver
Carmina’s Notes: The rabbits that were rescued all went to Erin Quinney’s Hope Ranch in Sooke, outside of Victoria. Only one rabbits of the hundreds caught was sick. (figure was closer to 500, not 700) Coverage by local media gave readers the false impression that these rabbits posed a potential risk to health. This misinformation was nothing more than an attempt to shape public perception into believing that the Capital Health Region was justified in having the rabbits shot.
Wildlife agencies and researches frequently use wording such as “may spread disease” and although this may be true, in this instance there was no evidence indicating that this was so.
In addition, Erin Quinney and some local businesses, animal advocacy/welfare groups and members of the public carried the financial burden of care and spay/neuter. The hospital and the SPCA didn’t help. And why would the SPCA, who’s supposed to speak for animals, endorse killing as a solution?
Sadly, in 2009, Ms Quinney passed away.
August 9, 2013 Times Colonist Editorial: Rabbit problem won’t go away
Comment: Past editorials and reporting by the TC have always presented a bias against rabbits. While this editorial is unfocused and presents inaccurate information such as rabbits spread disease, it is correct to say that people are the problem. We’re wreaking havoc on our environment, destroying our Earth at an alarming rate while multiplying exponentially. Let’s address that before it’s too late.
October 6, 2013 On this sunny and warm afternoon we spotted close to two dozen rabbits on the grassy area beside the Helmcken exit. Several weeks ago on a rather bleak day, we didn’t spot any.
October 30, 2013 We have been to Victoria several times recently to check on several rabbit situations. Several days ago some animal carriers were left at the Helmcken exit, for what reason we don’t know. The police later followed up on the report and couldn’t spot the carriers or anything unusual. We’ve been closely monitoring the rabbits since.
Comment: Rabbit Advocacy Group supporters, including ourselves, have visited the site on a number of occasions over the last few years and are pleased to hear that some local residents and veterinarians are stepping up to help the bunnies.
Dumping your rabbit into the outdoors is not only cruel and thoughtless, it’s illegal. Don’t do it!
Note: BC’s Transportation Minister is Todd Stone.
August 29, 2015 Trans-Canada median bunnies to get temporary digs
Comment: Let’s get these rabbits to safety. People have been feeding them, but not because of the “cuteness factor” as the Times Colonist editorial position spouts, but because they don’t want to see them starve to death.
February 12, 2016: The rabbits living alongside the interchange at Helmcken Road and the Trans Canada Highway in View Royal are going to be relocated to a refuge in the South Central United States. Transportation Minister, Todd Stone, says the Ministry has made a deal under which it will pay for professional trapping services, due to begin soon. A group of local philanthropists will fund spaying and neutering, as well as transportation of the several dozen rabbits to their new location.
Comment: Uncaring people have dumped their unwanted rabbits here, and elsewhere for years. Humans are solely to blame for these situations. Sadly, this one was left virtually unchecked, and the sporadic efforts by a few volunteers were insignificant. Now that the rabbit population has exploded and there has been some media attention, it looks like the BC government has decided to react.
Unless there’s a massive shift in human consciousness we will continue to see history repeat itself.
September 10, 2016 Greater Victoria bunnies go deep in the heart of Texas
Comment: The rabbits arrived safely at Retired Rabbit Sanctuary, after being driven down to Bellingham, WA, to catch their flight. Thanks to all the volunteers.