Richmond feral rabbit inhabitants not declining regardless of administration efforts: metropolis report

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Regardless of attempting a number of completely different methods over the previous two years, the feral rabbit inhabitants doesn’t appear to be declining, in accordance with a metropolis report

The Metropolis of Richmond’s makes an attempt to regulate the feral rabbit simply can’t appear to maintain up with its rising inhabitants.

Not solely do they pose well being dangers to native species – by spreading Rabbit Hemmoradic Illness – these non-native rabbits are additionally damaging pure habitats.

“Impacts to the surroundings are evident, and primarily based on reported sightings, rabbits are transferring into ecologically delicate areas reminiscent of Terra Nova Park and new landscapes reminiscent of Aberdeen Park and Paulik Neighbourhood Park,” reads a report on feral rabbits going to council’s parks, leisure and cultural providers committee subsequent week.

Regardless of attempting a number of completely different methods over the previous two years, the feral rabbit inhabitants doesn’t appear to be declining. 

“Whereas rabbit management efforts have been profitable the place employed, the prolific breeding of rabbits typically outcompete the present capability of service suppliers,” reads the report.

Since 2020, when a pilot program was launched, town has been working with Rabbitats to humanely seize, spay/neuter and relocate the rabbits to one of many not-for-profit’s sanctuaries. 

Between December 2020 and June 2021, 61 grownup feral rabbits had been captured. All the feminine rabbits besides one had been pregnant, leading to 28 extra rabbits being born within the sanctuary.

Feral rabbits, that are domesticated rabbits – or their offspring – which were deserted or escaped open air, are largely European rabbits and are categorized as an invasive species.

Richmond banned the sale of rabbits in pet shops in 2010, and householders can’t have greater than two home rabbits per family.

Feeding animals, together with rabbits, in any public park or college floor, and releasing any animals in these areas, can also be banned beneath metropolis bylaws.

Resulting from their adaptability, lack of pure predators and prolific breeding, feral rabbits can “quickly outcompete” native rabbit species, in accordance with the report. The rabbits additionally feed on native crops and shrubs which ends up in the injury and lack of pure habitat, and have been reported in and round agricultural land.

“Moreover, as a result of feral rabbits are transient and infrequently search out new liveable area, they typically invade roadways and might pose a danger to motorists’ security,” the report states.

In 2020, town launched a pilot program with Rabbitats to assist handle the feral rabbit inhabitants within the Dover Neighbourhood space.

Via this system, Rabbitats trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated rabbits within the space towards Rabbit Hemmoradic Illness (RHD), and relocated them to one in all their sanctuaries.

This program was continued in 2021, and Rabbitats was requested to answer stories of feral rabbit sightings in Richmond. In whole, 118 rabbits had been faraway from public property and relocated to a sanctuary that yr.

Within the report, metropolis workers suggest rising public consciousness in 2022 and persevering with to work with Rabbitats to handle the feral rabbit populations, with town paying as much as $15,000 to the not-for-profit.

Metropolis workers may even take a look at growing a Feral Rabbit Administration Research for a “complete, proactive and sustainable response particular to feral rabbits.” This contains figuring out the extent of Richmond’s feral rabbit inhabitants, the place they’re concentrated and inhabitants traits.  

The research will likely be funded by the Invasive Species working funds and isn’t anticipated to exceed $25,000.

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