Rabbits @ UVic

Rabbit management questions and answers

July 18, 2011

Is UVic still trapping and providing rabbits to sanctuaries with Province of BC permits?
UVic has successfully trapped all of the rabbits on campus and provided them to permit holders. As of March 31, 2011 the permits to remove rabbits from UVic expired. As a result, rabbits can no longer be transported from UVic to sanctuaries. Any rabbits abandoned on campus in the future will be humanely trapped and killed.

We don't want to risk having to face a similar situation to what we faced in 2010 with an out-of-control rabbit population and the attendant safety, health and property damage issues and the concerns from surrounding communities.

Can members of the public adopt rabbits abandoned on the campus?
No. In BC, abandoned rabbits are considered wildlife and and cannot be adopted into private homes. They can only be trapped and provided to an individual or organization with a Province of BC permit to house rabbits.

What will happen to any rabbits released on campus?
UVic will humanely trap and kill any rabbits released on campus. They will be put down off-campus by a licensed practitioner using a humane method accepted by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Has UVic ever used bromadiolone to poison rabbits or other birds and animals on campus?
Absolutely not! UVic has been using bromadiolone, a sanctioned poison, for use in its rat bait stations for 15 years. These traps are designed specifically to only allow access by rats. Birds of prey, domestic animals and wildlife, including rabbits, cannot access these traps.

How many feral rabbits were there on campus?
UVic's rabbit population was estimated at about 1,400 to 1,600 in summer 2010.

When did the rabbits appear on campus?
Feral rabbits have been a part of the university campus for many years. They are likely unwanted pets or the descendants of unsterilized pets abandoned on campus by members of the community. Rabbit abandonment is a regional issue, with pet rabbits being similarly dumped in public green spaces around Greater Victoria.

Why did UVic remove the rabbit population from campus?
While many people on and off-campus enjoyed the presence of rabbits, they constituted a safety and potential health hazard on the athletic fields and were responsible for unsustainable damage to campus vegetation. Rabbits also tunnelled around university buildings. In addition, some residents in adjacent neighbourhoods were concerned about rabbits spreading into their gardens.

What did UVic do about the rabbits prior to developing the management plan?
UVic has implemented several initiatives over the past several years.

Why shouldn't people leave unwanted pet rabbits at UVic? It seems like a good place for rabbits.
Pet owners may think that the campus or any green space is a safe place for rabbits and that setting them loose is easier or kinder than taking them to an animal shelter. But in reality, pet rabbits are not well-adapted for the rigours of outdoor life. Many fall prey to predators and disease. Others are injured or killed by cars, dogs and humans. Allowing irresponsible pet owners to abandon their unwanted pets on campus would be to condone an inhumane and illegal practice.

What will UVic do to ensure that the rabbit problem doesn't return?
We hope that the community cooperates with us and doesn't abandon their pet rabbits on campus because we don't want to have to kill these animals. We will continue to support the BCSPCA in its attempt to encourage area municipalities and the regional district to adopt by-laws prohibiting the sale of non-sterilized rabbits and the abandonment of rabbits. We want to work with the area governments to ensure this difficult issue doesn't reoccur on campus.