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Big city bunnies

Let’s talk about the bunnies.

Not hares, those wild rabbits that stand the height of small children and darken the sun at the end of the street during sunrise. 

We are talking cute little domestic-looking bunnies. 

Their numbers seem to be growing out of control in certain areas—Bridgeland and Erlton to name two.

It is quite possible that they are attempting to take over the city, maybe even the world. 

It doesn’t take a pet detective to figure out what has happened—people get sick of the pet rabbit their 5-year-old begged for (or perhaps it escaped) and they gift it what they think is freedom.

Pet rabbit finds other abandoned pet rabbit, and well as rabbits do, we find ourselves with a plethora of rabbits.

Walking neighbourhoods with these rogue bunny populations can often illuminate the feeling of being in a Disney film. 

So what’s the big deal?

They are invasive to our native wildlife, and so they end up either in competition or in trouble. 

Canmore was subject to a similar problem in 2011, when a bunny population that was left unchecked for years spiraled out of control. 

They drew unwanted predators into the town, like coyotes, and effectively mowed down important vegetation.

By 2013, the town was forced to cull the fluffy friends, creating much debate over the ethics of the circumstance.

Calgary has potential to see this same fate.

Trouble bunnies, who may have hopped too close to the highway or tried to snuggle with a neighbour’s house cat, sometimes end up at the Humane Society, awaiting a life indoors and warmed by the fireplace. 

The Humane Society is experiencing a bit of a problem, however, in that many people don’t consider bunnies to be great family additions. 

“They need specialized care,” said Sage Pullen McIntosh, communications specialist for the Calgary Humane Society.

She explained that most people have more experience with cats or dogs, so those are the go-to pets.

Dogs and cats also seem to attract more attention when out on the street, and through partner agencies within the city like 311 and vet clinics, are usually taken care of right away.

Bunnies don’t elicit this response though.

Pullen McIntosh commented on the lack of time and resources that are required to trap and take a good portion of the feral bunnies off the streets. 

The Humane Society does aim every year to attract attention to the homeless bunnies within their shelter, encouraging more adoptions.   

Unfortunately, she says, there is not much they can do about the hundreds that are out there.

It is interesting to think we live in a society that suggests bunnies don’t have similar rights to other beloved pets. 

Certainly they are cute, so it is not the charisma that is lacking. 

Rabbit enthusiasts with online presence all seem to be aware of the plight, and ‘wabbitwiki’ (yes, a Wikipedia for bunny supporters) clearly demonstrates the cruelty of setting rabbits free once tired of dealing with their cute faces.

It is pretty much a death sentence for them, unless of course they manage to survive, gain traction and establish entire colonies.

For those domestic bunnies out there, though, making a go of it in the wild, there is nothing in place to give them a paw up. 

Next time you pass one on the street, take a moment to consider its not-so adorable situation.

Maybe even imagine your dog or cat in their place.   

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