A volunteer organization working to put forward a proposal to use non-lethal methods in dealing with Canmore’s feral rabbit population are concerned residents of the community are taking matters into their own hands.
Spokesperson for Save Canmore Bunnies Kyndra Biggy said since the municipality launched its process to solicit proposals for dealing with feral rabbits she has noticed more and more of the critters disappearing.
Whether they have been hit by vehicles, trapped or poisoned by residents, Biggy said she is concerned these kinds of actions are happening at the same time as a process to deal with the rabbits is underway.
“People are taking things into their own hands and I have noticed a decrease in the rabbit population,” she said. “I understand people want them gone, we want them out of town too because they are not natural, but we do have a better solution for them.”
Biggy said she has not seen first-hand anybody trapping or poisoning the feral rabbits, but even rumours of such actions cause her to have concerns.
With poisoning, she said, if the dead rabbits are eaten by predators those poisons will be introduced into the food chain and the carcasses will potentially act as a wildlife attractant.
Bylaw services manager Greg Burt said people poisoning feral rabbits is a public safety concern, not just for the food chain, but small children or pets that may come into contact with it.
Burt said trapping is prohibited inside Canmore’s town limits as set out in its hunting and trapping bylaw. Poisoning, he said, is prohibited by the province.
Anyone caught and charged could face fines starting at $500.
Burt said this year there have been several complaints of trapping, however, nobody was charged.
He said Bylaw has investigated those complaints and found traps, however, none that were successful in catching a rabbit.
Those individuals, he added, were educated that no trapping is allowed. In addition, no complaints have been received about people poisoning rabbits.
Burt said if residents see people doing either illegal activity they should call bylaw so a peace officer can investigate.
In the meantime, the request for proposals to rid the town of the feral rabbits closes next Tuesday (Aug. 6).
“We are waiting to see what kind of response we get and will be acting on it expediently,” Burt said. “The goal is to hopefully start the process in November or December this year.”
Administration will bring proposals received that meet the requirements to council for final approal.
Biggy said her organization is putting significant volunteer effort into finding a non-lethal solution to Canmore’s feral rabbit problem and it’s discouraging that residents would act in such a way.
She added as Save Canmore Bunnies efforts proceed they will be looking to the community to help with fundraising efforts.
Currently an event is being planned for the end of September and businesses interested in donating items for a silent auction should contact firstname.lastname@example.org