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Richmond rabbits on the chopping block seek sanctuary

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

It may be in Bugs Bunny’s best interest to stay away from the Richmond Auto Mall, where the provincial government has declared it wabbit season on the hundreds of critters roaming the commercial centre’s gardens.


The mall’s business association wants to move the rabbits to an offsite sanctuary, but the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recommends destroying the animals instead since they’re considered an invasive species.

“These are definitely someone’s ex-pets along with their offspring, so the idea of collecting them all up and killing them — I can’t subscribe to that,” said Gail Terry, general manager of RAM’s business association.

Plans for a proposed sanctuary involve spaying or neutering 300 rabbits at a cost of about $16,500 — half of which RAM will cover — while keeping the animals in an area secured with ground wire to ensure they don’t escape.

But Terry said government red tape means the only options right now are to gather the bunnies up to be euthanized or leave them where they are.

She added the auto mall is not a safe place for the rabbits to dwell since there so much traffic zipping through the area as well as dangerous chemicals the creatures could consume.

Brent Gurd, a wildlife biologist for the ministry, said the government hasn’t held direct talks about the rabbits with RAM, but notes domestic sanctuaries often run into problems when it comes to long-term funding.

“We don’t want to just move these somewhere else, because they are an invasive species. You just create problems for other people.”


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