Rabbit program to resume this month
Thursday, Oct 11, 2012 06:00 am
Following a four-month campaign that resulted in 189 rabbits captured, all of which were sent to a not-for-profit sanctuary, and cost taxpayers $29,680, the Feral Rabbit program is set to resume in Canmore later this month.
According to Town Communications Co-ordinator Sally Caudill, administration is working with the contracted trapper, Animal Damage Control, to determine the most appropriate time to start trapping.
“One of the things we found in Canmore is that the rabbits are quite well fed, so it’s hard to bait them and get them to move,” Caudill said.
“Having a hard freeze or some snow really helps make food more scarce, but in September we were having such gorgeous warm weather, it just made no sense to start trapping them.”
Another issue the Town has experienced regarding the rabbit program since its incarnation is the lack of access to private property. Those who have not signed up for the program are urged to do so via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out an access agreement on the town’s website under “Forms and Permits.”
“What we really tried to do this year was to get all those access agreements ready to go and try to get people filling them out now so when the trapper does start it could just be immediate,” she explained.
Despite the successful transfer of trapped rabbits during the spring program to the Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society (EARS), Caudill pointed out that at this time, the non-profit group has no capacity to take rabbits trapped in Canmore this fall.
“We haven’t received any new ones for this coming fall,” the co-ordinator said about alternatives to EARS. “We did have a couple of people submit things, but for one reason or another it didn’t meet the criteria. EARS is the only group that has come forward that has met our criteria.
“We don’t have any capability to store them or hold them, so when they’re trapped the trapper is either turning them over or euthanising them,” she added. “If anybody comes forward at any time, we are willing to work with them and redirect the trapper.”
Some of the basic requirements for groups and sanctuary operators to house feral rabbits include sustainable funding/donation sources, transportation and secure non-reproductive plans, references, proof of non-profit status and a past reputation as a responsible animal caregiver.
Other information pertaining to the standards and evaluation criteria can also be found on the Town’s website under ‘Municipal Services.’
According to a report delivered to council in May, the remaining budget from the spring program to be used this fall is $20,319.30 while starting in the new year, a budget of $60,000 has been planned to resume the program again from January to March and, if needed, from October to December.
Caudill also said the total number of feral rabbits within Canmore is unknown, but some counts suggest the number could be as many as 2,000.