Feral rabbits in Richmond

Rabbit rampage sparks call for pet store ban

UBCM cities want change to reduce abandonment of bunnies in parks

B.C. cities are demanding the province ban pet stores from selling unsterilized bunnies to help quell a plague of fast-breeding feral rabbits in public parks and green space.

Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates voted 55 per cent to support a prohibition Thursday after Delta Coun. Bruce McDonald recounted the costs and challenges of dealing with abandoned rabbits that overran the grounds around Delta’s municipal hall.

“We spent $350,000 replacing and repairing the damage done by the bunnies after we ‘removed them,'” he said.

Bunnies are often bought close to Easter to delight children but are then later turned loose in parks when they turn out to be peskier pets than families expected, he said.

“The pet shops don’t really care what they do,” McDonald said.

Stores don’t want to sterilize baby bunnies because they’re too young, he added, and they’re usually sold by the time they are old enough.

Neighbouring Richmond has battled the same problem and banned the sale of rabbits there but still grapples with a huge wild population as well as the dumping of bunnies bought in other nearby cities.

The University of Victoria has also embarked on a huge rabbit roundup in recent years.

Rabbit advocates have opposed culls and even accused cities like Richmond of burying bunnies alive when workers fill in rabbit holes to reduce tripping hazards.

Thompson Nicola regional district director Sally Watson cautioned against a province-wide bunny selling ban that could interfere with rabbit meat farmers like herself.

“How would I ever get breeding stock?” she asked. “My rabbits aren’t cute – they’re delicious.”