Province working on rabbit relocation

Provincial wildlife officials say they are doing their best to help re-locate feral rabbits from the Richmond Auto Mall area and any restrictions that may have slowed the process are in place to protect the environment.

Rabbitat Rabbit Rescue had voiced concerns its efforts to find new homes for 50 or so rabbits that had been caught and sterilized were being hampered. It claimed the province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations prevented them from sending some rabbits to sanctuaries in B.C.

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Rabbitats had a permit — which expired March 1 — to send the rabbits to a sanctuary in Washington State, but Rabbitats believes a dozen or so animals were too small to make the transition. And it’s those animals Rabbitats wanted to send to homes in B.C.

But the province has regulations preventing that. And that has stalled the relocation process.

According to an email from the ministry, the feral European rabbit is non-native, known to destroy property (including agricultural crops) and detrimental to native wildlife.

For those reasons, the province’s wildlife experts recommend either sterilization and relocation to a secure facility out of province, or humane euthanisation.

In the case of relocation, the destination facilities must have resources (people, food, etc.) necessary to provide adequate care for the number of animals to be relocated, stated the ministry.

The province also supports local government initiatives to pass by-laws limiting the sale of rabbits in their communities.

Plus, the province does not support the release of any feral European rabbits, whether sterilized or not, into the wild, public parks or wildlife management areas as they compete for food and habitat with native species.

And with the current home at the auto mall for the multiplying rabbits in Rabbitats’ care slated to be demolished in the fall, it has left the bunny population with an uncertain future.

praphael@richmond-news.com

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