Don’t fall down the rabbit hole

One suggestion to deal with UVic’s rabbit problem: ‘more bullets’



Don’t fall down the rabbit hole

Debra Brash/ Victoria Times Colonist


As many as 2,000 rabbits scamper freely on the University of Victoria campus. But students shouldn’t get too attached. After a relocation plan failed last month, UVic is looking at other options to deal with its burgeoning bunny population. And with mating season fast approaching, officials are considering a solution they once hoped to keep off the table: a cull.

Sure they’re cute, but Richard Piskor, UVic’s director of occupational health, safety and environment, says rabbits also bring trouble. “The sheer volume of feces on the fields is remarkable,” he says. “So the potential for [human] infection is there.” Burrowing is another problem. Piskor said a staff member was injured while walking across a field pitted with rabbit holes; he ended up in the hospital with broken teeth. Then there’s the damage to trees, which are being debarked, and to the rabbits themselves. Piskor says an average of three a day are run over by cars.

All this inspired a pilot project to create “rabbit-free zones” on campus. Last December, UVic hired a wildlife contractor to capture and sterilize 150 rabbits, and find the animals new homes in the community. But after 51 rabbits were sterilized, UVic learned that individuals are not permitted by Ministry of Environment regulations to keep feral rabbits. The project was called off.

So on to Plan B. First, Piskor will launch a general awareness campaign about pet abandonment; the majority of UVic’s bunnies, he notes, are not of species native to Canada, which suggests they descended from rabbits bred as house pets. Others have more explicit ideas. “I eat UVic Rabbits” is the name of one Facebook group. “Too many rabbits? Buy more bullets,” suggests a letter writer to the Times Colonist. A tad severe, but Piskor says a variation of the latter option—albeit a humane cull—“remains a possibility.”


Don’t fall down the rabbit hole

  1. As a UVic student, I really think that Psikor is overstating the problem considerably. The anecdotal case of the injured administrator is unfortunate, but I suspect a rarity (i have never heard of anyone that had been injured prior this and another similar "we gotta do something" story, let alone a hospital visit-inducing injury). There is rabbit poo, but as someone who enjoyed lounging in the yards of campus it was never a problem and the threat of human infection is over top (and I happen to have a severely compromised immune system due to my regular regime of arthritis meds). And frankly the furry visitors are charming! they are a universal hit with any visitor i have ever taken for a tour of campus.

    I am curious as to why, if the administration is intent on wiping out the rabbits, not just continue the sterilization effort via a catch and release program and let the rabbits die out in a short number of years? that seems to be a bif part of the effort here:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303

  2. I am disappointed not only in the University's approach to this conundrum, but the community for abandoning these animals and then turning it around on them by referring to them as “pests”. These animals are victims of humanity and the
    intelligent, moral thing to do is to accept our responsibility in this and come up with a solution to humanely
    and non-lethally rectify what we humans have done. The population of rabbits currently on campus is so
    high because the University let it get to this point. How could an institution that hands out degrees in
    Biology not foresee this coming? It's ridiculous. This quick fix of a proposed cull is not the answer
    because reliable sources can tell you that they have done that on campus in the past to keep things at bay,
    yet clearly this has not had a long-term sustainable effect. You cannot keep the population of bunnies at a
    manageable level without a sterilization plan in place. This has been successfully accomplished elsewhere.
    The University needs to be more stringent in their message to the public about not dumping pets on
    campus. The fear tactics they have used in the past are an embarrassment to this “higher learning”
    institution. In an attempt to skew the public's perception of these misunderstood animals, the University
    has published blatant lies about the bunnies “spreading disease” and “causing tetanus from bites”. These
    claims are beyond ludicrous and are insulting to the community's intelligence.

    We've all heard the "rabbit stew" jokes, so please don't bother. It's neither original or funny.

    • Hello…! They are RABBITS,
      i.e. They breed quickly and are meant to be eaten.
      If you don't want to eat them, then get a few feral cats. But then when the rabbits are gone, what do you do with the cats?
      Get some Jack Russel terriers maybe.
      Why not ask Australia or England how THEY got rid of their rabbit plagues in th 1960s-80s?

      What's the difference between a rat and a rabbit? Or a squirrel?
      Geez…. Believe it or not I actually donate to PETA, but at this point, teaching the rabbits to use condoms is getting a bit much.
      EAT THEM.

  3. The UVic "Campus Cows" do make for good green fields because of their fertilizer.

    But they are getting to be too many, way too many. If they are going to cull, then do it in a way reflecting the three "R's". Reduce, reuse, recycle…

    – Reduce (less bunnies),
    – Reuse (eat the bunnies),
    – Recycle (make coats)!

  4. While there are lots of rabbits on campus the best thing to do is sterilization and release (or relocate) with a follow-up monitoring program. And don't support pet stores that sell live animals. For some reason Mr. Piskor seems overly concerned about the risk of disease, of which there is no evidence. He should direct his concerns to people to people contact. Ever take transit? I wonder if the staff member who tripped and fell, trips over his own shoelaces or if he was a little tipsy.

  5. Does nobody at the University of Victoria realize that these are not rabbits? They are hares, a different species. And can no entrpreneur make a fortune from producing petfood from them?

    • Oh Dave, you really have your facts mixed up. These of course are domesticated rabbits which are distinctly different from the wild rabbits or "hares" that you refer to. These rabbits on campus are direct descendants of pet store bunnies. Most of the colours have been bred out of them as generations go by because the black gene is dominant.

  6. The humane way according to Tom Smith is euthanasia with a lethal injection. This must be injected into a vein in the rabbit's ear. Can someone tell me how one person or even two are going to hold a wild, healthy and afraid rabbit while a vet tries to inject it. Not going to happen. What they will do is either gas, drown or shoot the little critters. Can you image the cost for the 'suggested' kill? Not going to happen and instead of a humane death these rabbits will suffer greatly.
    I own a rabbit and I remove rabbit feces daily. I am not ill and my neighbour always asks for them for her garden.
    Get it straight Mr Piskor. At one time the rabbits were the darlings of the campus now you hate them. Such a backward step for a progressive university.

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