Former UVic rabbits escape Island refuge; shot by neighbour
By Brad Bird, Oceanside Star, timescolonist.com September 29, 2010 5:04 PM
Coombs, B.C. - Victoria rabbits, shipped to the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs to save them from a cull at the University of Victoria, have escaped the compound only to be shot dead by a neighbour, says the refuge’s owner.
Dozens of rabbits got out of the compound on Tuesday and went onto an adjacent property where horses are kept, said refuge owner Wendy Huntbatch.
“The woman phoned me and in a very sour manner and said that the ‘pests’ had to be removed immediately” because the rabbits were eating the grass,” said Huntbatch.
Huntbatch said she told the neighbour she would arrange for live-traps to be brought as soon as possible to take care of the escapees.
But later that day, volunteers at the refuge who feed the rabbits heard gunshots.
“They ran to the fence where the sound came from and screamed at the people to stop,” she said. “They had killed about 20 of the bunnies at 4 p.m. They did not even wait for us to fix the problem.”
Since their biggest concern was that the rabbits were eating the grass and hay belonging to their horses, Huntbatch said she will replace much more than they could have eaten.
“Today I shall purchase a bale of quality hay and leave it at their entrance,” the Parrot Refuge owner said Wednesday.
The rabbits, removed from UVic where their numbers were out-of-control, were in a variety of separate areas at the refuge. Some are now sterilized, some are in post-surgery recovery and some are too young for surgery or still nursing.
It was a huge amount of work for the organization involved but “everything was going fine,” Huntbatch said, “until yesterday.”
Coombs is a rural community about 156 kilometres north of Victoria, just west of Parksville.
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