Feral rabbits relocated from the University of Victoria to a sanctuary in Coombs, on Vancouver Island, escaped to a neighbouring farm where they were shot. Barbara Smith, a former lawyer, returned to her farm after the weekend to find around 90 rabbits on her property. She called a trapper who shot at least 30 animals on Tuesday.
“I am a farmer and these things are inherently dangerous. They are akin to rats,” Smith who blames the government for allowing rabbits onto the rural sanctuary, told the Vancouver Sun. “They have dumped UVic’s problem on us, created an environmental disaster zone and walked away.” It is legal to shoot wildlife so long as firearms are not used close to homes.
Wendy Huntbatch of the World Parrot Refuge, the Coombs sanctuary that has taken in some of the former UVic rabbits, says smith’s actions were rash and uncalled for. “This was just so unnecessary. This was just someone being angry,” she told the Sun.
UVic has already removed approximately 400 rabbits from its campus, as part of a plan to relocate the roughly 1,400 animals that had taken over the university. The sanctuary in Coombs is just one of several taking in the rabbits.
UPDATE: Rabbit activist Roslyn Cassells filed a complaint to the Law Society of B.C. against Smith. “This is not acceptable [behaviour] from any citizen and especially a lawyer” Cassells said. The law society has the power to sanction lawyers if they act in a way unbecoming of the legal profession, including actions outside their legal work.
Lesley Pritchard, a spokesperson for the law society, released a brief statement late Friday afternoon confirming that a complain had been received. “The Law Society of BC can confirm it has received a complaint about Barbara M. Smith, a retired lawyer and we are looking into the matter,” the statement read.
Photo by Laura Drake