Bunnies discovered in Esquimalt raise concerns

Bunnies discovered in Esquimalt raise concerns

Just ahead of Easter, animal rescue centers on Vancouver Island are overwhelmed with rabbits.

It’s bad news for residents of an Esquimalt neighborhood who recently spotted domestic rabbits in the area.

“The kids noticed [the mother] about a month ago,” said Lorraine Nygaard who lives in Esquimalt.

“And then boom, all of a sudden there’s seven baby bunnies next door,” she said.

The rabbits were making their home on the construction site for the Rosemeade Inn along Lampson Street.

Nygaard said she is trying to start a veggie garden and keeping the rascally rabbits out would be impossible.

“Bunnies can get through any kind of fence, they can burrow, and they’re going to multiply and get ridiculously out of control,” she said.

That was a problem seen at the University of Victoria and the Helmcken overpass in the Town of View Royal when a few rabbits dumped at each location quickly became an overwhelming amount.

The animals dug up grass, killed trees and damaged property.

Concerned for the animals’ safety, the Esquimalt development wants to avoid a repeat.

“I’ve been speaking to different people in the community about finding ways that they can get a recue to help the rabbits, and I understand that there’s not a lot of places available,” said Jay Smith, community relations manager for Aragon Development Corporation .

The Victoria branch of the SPCA won’t take domestic rabbits if they are found outdoors because of Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease, which is highly contagious and fatal.

“We always suggest that the public who find orphaned or sick wildlife call the BC SPCA animal helpline for guidance,” said Breanne Beckett, BC SPCA senior manager for the Victoria area.

Amy’s Bunny Barn in Sooke has 60 animals in care already and has a waitlist of six months to surrender a rabbit.

“We’re always overwhelmed. For the last three years it’s been a lot worse since COVID,” said Amy McLaughlin, founder and director of Amy’s Bunny Barn.

With that many rabbits in care, it’s no wonder she feels the way she does about Easter.

“Rescues just dread Eastertime,” said McLaughlin.

“A lot of people impulsively get bunnies because they think, ‘Surprise for the kids,’ and don’t understand the level of care that rabbits require.”

While snuggling a white rabbit, McLaughlin said bunnies make a great pet for those willing to put in the time and money.

As of Monday, two of the bunnies from the construction site have been relocated to foster homes.