British Columbia

UVic's feral bunnies up for adoption

The University of Victoria is taking a soft approach to get rid of a warm and fluffy problem — the hundreds of feral bunnies that call the campus home.

The University of Victoria is taking a soft approach to get rid of a warm and fluffy problem — the hundreds of feral bunnies that call the campus home.

School administrators are looking for someone to trap and sterilize about 150 of the rabbits and put them up for adoption as part of pilot program.

The rabbits, which come in a variety of colours, appear to be the pet store variety, not the wilder Peter Cottontail sort. According to university staff, however, the lives of the estimated 1,500 campus rabbits can be dangerous, difficult and short, with cars, dogs and the occasional sadistic student bringing things to an abrupt end.

They are also a nuisance, digging holes in sports fields and gnawing their way through gardens in surrounding neighbourhoods, according to Patty Mack, president of the Mount Tolmie Community Association.

"They are awfully cute, but it has gone to the point where there are just way too many of them," Mack said.

Carmina Gooch, president of the Rabbit Advocacy Group of B.C., applauded the university for taking a humane approach to rabbit control, unlike the city of Kelowna in B.C.'s southern Interior, which initially responded to its rabbit problem with controversial plan to hire a firm to trap and kill the booming population.

But Gooch said it will be difficult to find people willing to adopt fully grown rabbits as pets.

"I just don't know how realistic putting rabbits captured from the outside into homes will be. Most people who get a rabbit generally want a baby rabbit," Gooch said.

A better idea would be to create a rabbit sanctuary, Gooch said.

If the UVic pilot project is successful, it will expand the program to its entire campus rabbit population. But if the pilot project doesn't work, the university says in its request for proposals, it may have to resort to lethal means to control the critters.

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