Alberta's Feral Domestic Rabbits Deserve Protection
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Domestic rabbits released intact outdoors, have resulted in feral domestic rabbit herds across Calgary (for more than a decade), and other Alberta cities and townships. Although rendered feral due to being raised outside across several generations, they are not really wildlife as are Mountain Cottontail rabbits, Snowshoe Hares, or Jackrabbits (also a type of hare). Domestic rabbits were specifically bred for indoor living as a domestic pet. Their self-defense instincts were removed by us to render them appropriate for domesticity. They lack the survival skills and natural biology to cope with Alberta's brutally cold winters. Born naked and blind they are totally dependent on their mothers for two weeks after birth. Then they are at our mercy, as well as the outdoor elements of extreme wind, rain, thunder and lightning, hail, floods, sweltering summer heat, etc. Unfortunately, they also have to contend with disingenuous humans - the poor, thieves, the mentally ill, the homeless (I have found three rabbit snares - one with a three week old rabbit kit caught in it, choking to death - declared illegal by Alberta Fish & Wildlife, while there is no city bylaw addressing this matter), drug addicts, and citizens who are helping themselves to "free" rabbits for any and all purposes including selling them, eating them, and who knows what else; and disingenuous organizations (organizations whose land the feral rabbit colonies are established on); natural wildlife predators like bobcats (I have photos of the resident Repsol Sport Centre bobcat), coyotes, and owls; injuries and diseases sans medical care; accidents (I found a tiny dead rabbit kit, between two to three weeks old, covered in paint from the freshly painted railing at Repsol Sport Centre); deliberate sadism (I've witnessed dogs and children being allowed to chase the young of this prey species for fun; ignorance (the public unwittingly feeds them what harms them); their own reproductive behaviour (females don't catch a break from mating and becoming pregnant) and exploitation (Parks Calgary really likes being in the public's good books because there is an increase in park-goers on good weather days to see the adorable rabbit kittens, never mind the suffering and death they went through in winter - after all, they breed like rabbits and the population just bounces back). I question the ethics of this.
We need an education and prevention program for Albertans to understand their responsibilities towards domestic rabbits. Releasing domestic rabbits outside is a heinous act. Meanwhile, we need laws in our province that will protect this sentient, intelligent, saintly species - the simple domestic rabbit.
This petition asks for a province-wide program specifically for feral domestic rabbits, which will do the following:
1) Humanely capture, medically assess & treat, spay/neuter*, socialize and rehome every last one of them, care of a Rabbit Sanctuary. Several such rabbit sanctuaries will need to be constructed (design c/o Rabbitats) throughout Alberta.
2) All unadoptable spayed and neutered rabbits will be placed in a sanctuary closest to them where they can live out their days free from harm and fear;
3) Subsidized low cost or no cost spay/neuter surgeries. These are currently cost-prohibitive for the reason that rabbits are exotic animals requiring an exotic vet.
AVIAN EXOTIC: $255+GST Neuters; $399+GST Spays; $109+GST Exam.
CALGARY SPAY & NEUTER: $200+GST Neuters, $300+GST Spays.
4) Socialization & Rehoming would also be conducted out of the sanctuary and/or a fostering program. Finding lifelong furever after homes for the baby rabbits; patient people willing to rehab a feral kit, willing to learn best practices in rabbit care, who do not mind us tracking the rabbit's wellbeing for life.
AGAINST ALL ODDS RABBIT RESCUE has been independently serving Calgary since 2007. Rosemarie & Amanda are a dedicated & responsive team who work very hard at improving the quality of lives that rabbits enjoy. I have referred injured feral rabbits to them and they acted swiftly on behalf of the rabbit.
A) The City of Calgary has been winking at this problem of feral domestic rabbit herds for far too long. There is a serious ethical wrong involved here which I aim to put right, with your assistance and their cooperation.
B) The Calgary Humane Society (CHS) has taken the view that these rabbits have been rendered feral and should now be treated as wildlife. They do not have the space nor are they currently mandated to accept responsibility for all of Calgary's feral domestic rabbit herds and colonies (Lindsay Park, Erlton, Bridgeland, Auburn Bay & North Haven, thus far).
C) The Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (CWRS) refuses to touch them because they are domestic.
So you see, if it is to be - it is up to you and me. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?
Yours very truly,
Lynda Wise, Ph. 587-353-3862
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