Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet
Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet

Culling bunnies not the answer

by - Story: 36776

Don't harm a hair on Kelowna's growing urban hare population.

That's the message from The Responsible Animal Care Society (TRACS).

TRACS spokesperson, Sinikka Crosland, says there are better ways of handling the rabbit population than culling, which has been proposed as one possible solution.

Crosland says there are two issues, prevention and what to do with the current crop of loose rabbits.

"We're standing in support of the sterilization bylaw being tossed about by the City," says Crosland.

"We think that would be striking at the roots of the problem if unsterilized bunnies were not going to be sold in pet stores."

She says people should be fined heavily for abandoning any pet.

"It comes back to education. People need to know that they shouldn't be abandoning their pets. They look for areas where there are other bunnies bounding around and deposit them there."

Crosland says rounding up the rabbits, sterilizing them and finding homes for them is a more humane way of solving the problem than culling them.

She says removing the current population, estimated to be upwards of 2,000, will take time.

"Finding homes is feasible with time. It's not something that we can go and clear up those streets in two weeks. There's just no way. Everybody would have to work together and we would have to adopt them out piecemeal."

Crosland says in Vernon, a rabbit rescue organization has been able to, over time, reduce the rabbit population significantly.

"They started out with hundreds of bunnies hopping around in Vernon and now they're down to dozens, because they've done an ongoing spay, neuter and adoption campaign."

The City has received a number of complaints from business owners along Enterprise Way, complaining about the damage the rabbits do to their landscaping.

Crosland believes those complaints pale in comparison to the uproar City Hall will open itself up to if the bunnies are culled.

"There are actually feeding stations there, people love them and are feeding them. There are people there that absolutely adore them. If the City decides they are going to cull these rabbits there is going to be a great big hoopla, and not just from our group."

TRACS has stated it will prepare a report for City Council with recommendations for curbing and controlling the urban rabbit population.

Crosland anticipates those recommendations will be available by early February.

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