A rabbit advocacy group in Richmond, British Columbia is accusing city workers of burying rabbits alive in Minoru Park after holes dug by rabbits were filled in. The area contains a large population of rabbits, the offspring of unwanted pets having been dumped to fend for themselves against traffic, predators and the elements.
Matthew Hoekstra, writing for the Richmond Review, quoted a spokesperson for the animal advocacy group “Bandaids for Bunnies.”
“One can only imagine how many dead rabbits are under the shed given their decreasing numbers as noticed by local residents,” said the group on its Facebook page.
City spokesperson Ted Townsend said city crews routinely fill holes in the park because they pose a “significant tripping hazard.”
“We have a legal responsibility to address that in the interest of public safety, and this particular area gets a lot of use in the summer,” said Townsend, adding holes around the shed were filled with loose soil, which wildlife is able to burrow through.
But rabbit rescuers were angered by the move and twice dug new holes for the rabbits—once removing wooden boards that covered the fresh dirt.
Townsend said the city doesn’t know who placed the boards on the rabbit real estate, but suggested someone might have done so to assist in the moving of equipment stored in the shed. Anyone who digs new holes would be damaging public property and would potentially be liable if anything happened as a result, he added.
“Our policy is not to try and interfere with the rabbits. We just let them live our their natural life cycle.”
In 2010, Richmond banned the retail sale of rabbits in an effort to control large populations of the abandoned pets—many of whom make homes in Minoru Park, Richmond Nature Park and the Richmond Auto Mall property.
“This issue is basically caused by people abandoning rabbits in our parks and open spaces, so everybody needs to be responsible in the care of rabbits, and not just abandoning them when they decide they no longer want them as a pet,” said Townsend.
Cindy Howard, who runs Richmond-based Bandaids for Bunnies with Krystal Grimm, doesn’t agree with the city’s practice of covering holes, which she said can lead to the death of the animals.
“We were out there (Minoru Park) this morning and one of the rabbits is pregnant and is going to have babies at any moment. She will probably go under that shed, because that’s part of her home, and have the babies there,” said Howard. “Newborn babies cannot dig themselves out.”
Animal advocate Carmina Gooch contacted the Richmond Parks department about the incident and then posted this report on Facebook, “I contacted the City and what they said was in this particular instance City staff did, as part of regular operating practise, fill holes in the grounds at Minoru Park. Open holes present a significant public safety hazard and the City has a legal responsibility to deal with them to protect public safety. The holes were filled with loose soil which animals are capable of burying though to regain access to active burrows. City staff, in fact, witnessed rabbits doing exactly that. ”
The complete Richmond Review article may be read online at http://www.richmondreview.com/news/162135275.html