Now that the feral rabbit removal program appears to be finally getting under way, I would like to voice my support for the way Canmore town council and Town administration have handled this initiative.
First of all, I totally agree that the removal of anything in our community that can attract dangerous predators is worthwhile. If anyone believes that some of the predators that may be attracted into our community by feral rabbits are not dangerous, I suggest that they read the book Cat Attack by Jo Deurbrouck and Dean Miller.
This book documents the results of a study of 53 cougar attacks during the 1990s in Western Canada and the U.S.
Some of the book’s highlights are:
1. Most cougar attacks are predatory in nature.
2. Travelling in groups does not prevent a cougar attack. For some of the attacks that were documented, a cougar ran past several adults in a group and attacked a child.
3. In most cases, when a cougar attacks a human, it clamps onto the victim’s head or neck and it is very difficult to get it to release its hold.
The following is a paragraph from this book that provides a good description of cougars: “Cougars are not harmless. They are hunters and wherever they go they shed blood. If a cougar is hungry and is unable to find its preferred prey due to injury, or inexperience, it will seek small prey that is easier to catch.”
Since we are in cougar country, it is conceivable that a juvenile or injured cougar could wonder into town looking for a rabbit meal, with disastrous results.
A few years ago a cougar killed a skier in Banff National Park and this year a pair of juvenile cougars near Canmore had to be put down after they became stressed for food and tried to prey on a dog and a child.
Everyone should ask himself or herself what they would do if, as a council member, people with wildlife experience recommend that the feral rabbits be removed to deter dangerous predators for coming into Canmore. I would sure vote for removal.
In addition, I would like to commend the council for refusing to allocate any of our tax dollars to the ‘Sterilization and Transfer to a Sanctuary’ initiative (or the surgery and long term care option).
The only time wild rabbits can be easily enticed into a baited trap is during the winter months when they are starving. Since these rabbits have spread out of south Canmore into most town areas, and since not all homeowners will co-operate with the live trapping program, it may take several winters to eliminate them from our environment.
For this reason, our limited tax dollars should be reserved for only the capture part of the program.
I also believe that the Town administration is doing a good job of establishing strict conditions before they will release any rabbits to surgery and long term care proponents.
It may seem to some that the Town has tried to put up roadblocks to this initiative, however, they are really protecting us taxpayers from liabilities resulting from problems that could crop up in the future. For example, if the Canmore rabbits escape from a poorly built sanctuary and the sanctuary neighbours want them removed, whom do you think they are going to call?
Better still, if the surgery and long term care folks do not have the people and financial resources to feed and care for these rabbits during their six- to 10-year life span and the SPCA steps in and starts looking for someone to take over responsibility for the sanctuary, who do you think they will call?
Well, fellow taxpayers, they will not call Ghostbusters. They will call the Town of Canmore because the rabbits in question are Canmore rabbits and will remain so until the day they die.
In summary, I believe the mayor, town council and administration have done a good job overseeing a very difficult and controversial project, necessitated by stupid and or careless people that have released a foreign species into our environment, with inevitable results.