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Rabbits wrapped in red tape

Delay has multiplied problem of remaining feral population at auto mall

Wrapping up an attempt to rescue and relocate a group of Richmonds feral rabbits in red tape is just plain wrong.

Thats the view of officials at Rabbitats who said a delay at the provincial level has multiplied the problem literally at the Richmond Auto Mall.

Rabbitats has already trapped a government-mandated quota of 50 bunnies from the 65 or so feral rabbits living in and around the auto mall, but has been prevented from collecting the remainder whose numbers have since increased.

The problem stems, Rabbitats claims, from a delay while officials at B.C.s Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch sort out their internal policies.

Rabbitats had a permit to transport the 50 rabbits to a sanctuary in Washington State, which adhered to governments export only policy.

But some of the bunnies proved too small and fragile to be housed at the Washington facility. And that prompted Rabbitats to ask for those rabbits to be relocated to homes in B.C. first.

And while the province has okayed private adoptions, they have denied permission for so-called sanctuaries to take them.

The sticking point is the governments definition of sanctuary, said Rabbitats Sorelle Saidman.

Is a hobby farm a sanctuary? I dont think so, she said. These people are wanting to adopt the rabbits and care for them for life. This isnt a non-profit rescue, its just people with the space and money adopting a family of abandoned rabbits.

The permit for Washington State has now expired, meaning all the rabbits are now in limbo.

The delay is an incredible burden on the Auto Mall and the rescue, said Richmond Auto Mall manager Gail Terry.

We had spay/neuter and long-term support budgets, and homes lined up for every rabbit and then some when we started. We have Rabbitville set up in a building scheduled to be demolished in the fall.

The breeding rabbits mean were going to have to trap mothers and leave babies in the nest, which is upsetting. The budget is going to balloon. Its a terrible hardship on all of us. Its insane. Theres no common sense here.