Don't feed the bunnies: City says it's the humans that need to be managed
'They're too cute, it's pretty tough not to feed them,' says resident
Calgary neighbourhoods are hopping with cute and fuzzy bunnies, but the city is asking residents to resist the urge to feed them.
Feral rabbit populations are a growing concern, particularly in the communities of Erlton, Bridgeland and Ramsay.
In city council on Monday, Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said the rabbits are proliferating and being helped along by people who leave out food for the free-ranging varmints.
Erlton resident David Fox says he's guilty of treating his long-eared neighbours to a carrot or two.
"They're too cute, it's pretty tough not to feed them," Fox said.
"There's people that come from out of the neighbourhood to feed them as well. I've had people pull up here and feed the rabbits in front of my house. It's pretty tough not to."
Don't feed them!
Tanya Hope, a parks ecologist with the City of Calgary, says the best way to deal with the rabbits is to educate the public.
"We can have bunnies gathering in large groups and if there's no one to feed them then they'll move on to other food sources like people's gardens or vegetation in our parks," she said.
"Reducing the feeding could reduce the population numbers over time and it's probably the best way of helping us take care of this issue."
The multiplying urban rabbits also attracts predators, like coyotes and hawks. Hope says keeping the number of bunnies down will help keep coyotes out of the inner city.
There are bylaws against feeding wildlife, and people caught sneaking snacks to bunnies could be ticketed.
"Wildlife are wildlife, they're going to do what they do. It's the people we have to manage," Hope said.
Regardless of Calgarians' feeling about the critters, Hope says the bunnies are here to stay.
"Even if we were to remove all of the rabbits from the area, new rabbits would just move in so this is going to be something that is always part of our ecosystem in the city," she said.
With files from Mike Symington and Scott Dippel