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Date: January 20, 2011

UVic Moves To Rabbit-Free Campus

The University of Victoria has revised its long-term feral rabbit management plan to eliminate the proposed ‘rabbit control zone’ from the interior of the campus and designate the entire campus ‘rabbit free.’

Over 800 rabbits have been removed from campus through permits granted by the Province of BC, and less than 50 rabbits remain. These permits to remove rabbits expire as of March 31, 2011 and, with the support of the permit-holders, UVic plans to remove all the remaining rabbits from campus by the end of February.

The original rabbit management plan called for a rabbit control zone in the central part of campus to be home to a population of about 200 sterilized rabbits. But the permit holders have suggested to UVic that it move out all the rabbits now, while it’s still possible. UVic Facilities Management Executive Director Tom Smith adds that a rabbit control zone would also encourage pet owners to continue to abandon pet rabbits on campus—the original source of UVic’s out-of-control rabbit population.

“The permit holders have worked very hard to take more rabbits from us than we had thought would be possible,” says Smith. “But their permits to remove rabbits expire soon. We’d like to use the next few weeks to move all of the rabbits into sanctuaries while we can and before the next breeding season begins.”

Although the campus rabbit population was estimated at 1,400 to 1,600 last summer, it was reduced more quickly than anticipated through increased predation by birds of prey on the significantly reduced remaining population, the decreased seasonal reproduction rate, and the success of the rabbit removal program.

“The permit holders, the BCSPCA, and neighbouring community associations support us in this effort to remove all rabbits from campus to sanctuaries,” says Smith. “While UVic is willing to dedicate some resources to rabbit removal, it is unrealistic for the university to divert funding to this task in perpetuity. After Feb. 28, any rabbit found on campus will be humanely trapped and killed.”

UVic will continue to support the BCSPCA in its attempt to encourage area municipalities to adopt by-laws prohibiting the sale of non-sterilized rabbits and the abandonment of rabbits.

Media contacts:

Patty Pitts (UVic Communications) at 250-721-7656 or ppitts@uvic.ca
Sara Dubois (BCSPCA) at 604-647-6403 /call: 778-772-9762 or sdubois@spca.bc.ca

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