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Councillor Graeme James. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)
Councillor Graeme James. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)

Rabbits subject of 'hate mail'

by Wayne Moore - Story: 44793
Feb 3, 2009 / 7:00 am

Kelowna citizens for and against the capture of feral rabbits in the City are being encouraged to 'chill out.'

Councillor Charlie Hodge asked that threatening calls and emails stop during a debate on how to proceed after the current contract with EBB Environmental Consulting runs out.

"I have some real concerns with the response by some of the public. I've received some phone calls and some emails," says Hodge.

"I would ask the public to be cognizant when they are making these intimidating phone calls, especially to our staff that the people here are doing their best to solve this problem. I wouldn't say its militant groups as much as it is individuals that are perhaps going way over the edge in terms of threats and insults."

City Forestry Supervisor, Ian Wilson, says EBB has also been receiving threats after the company requested using air rifles again, saying it was more effective and less costly than trapping.

"In recent discussions with them, and I know they had suggested that two weeks ago, they have gotten a lot of hate mail to put it nicely," says Wilson.

"They are a little more reluctant to go back to that."

In a detailed update for Council, Wilson says 654 rabbits have been trapped and relocated or killed to date. He says about 67 of those were trapped during the past two weeks.

"Most of those were euthanized because we were unable to find immediate homes for them, however, I asked EBB to keep some of the animals alive in cages and well fed in hopes we may be able to find homes for them in the very near future."

Wilson says EBB has enough money left on its contract with the city for about three more weeks.

While he says it is reasonable they could trap another 60 rabbits, he estimates there are about 100 to 150 rabbits remaining.

He says those are conservative estimates and does acknowledge some new pockets have recently been discovered.

Wilson did receive an estimate from EBB on costs beyond the conclusion of the contract. Figures he presented to council include:
  • Trapping 50 rabbits - $5,780
  • Trapping 100 rabbits - $11,560
  • Trapping 150 rabbits - $17,341

With a short time remaining, Councillors showed concern over what could happen if the rabbit population were allowed to replenish itself.

Councillor Graeme James urged returning to the more effective air rifle as originally proposed by EBB, however, that option was discounted by the rest of council.

"Like I said before, I have spoken with the agricultural community and they are concerned. We now have rabbits on Glenmore Road in the Kane Road area and I can attest that if you see 150 rabbits there are a lot more in the bushes," says James.

"I just can't see wasting taxpayers money on more trapping."

Councillor Robert Hobson wanted the process to play out before making any further decisions.

"I feel we have agreed to this course of action, and it's coming to an end in the next few weeks. We are seeing considerable progress, so let's see where we go," says Hobson.

"I'm not ruling out any option once the contract is up as far as I'm concerned."

Wilson told council he would return once the contract is up with further updates. At that time, Council will likely set the next course of action.


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