Rabbit compound fortified to stop breakouts
By Judith Lavoie, Times ColonistOctober 10, 2010
New fences, foundations and double gates are being built at the Coombs rabbit sanctuary to prevent any more bunny breakouts, says rabbit rescuer Susan Vickery.
"We are just re-creating the whole compound and checking for any weak places," said Vickery, who is caring for more than 200 former University of Victoria rabbits.
Last week, after many of the rabbits escaped and hopped onto a nearby field, 30 were shot by a trapper hired by neighbour Barbara Smith, who said the rabbits pose a threat to her horses.
Some rabbits are still on Smith's field, but she will not allow volunteers onto her property to trap them. Vickery said she plans to put traps with hen scratch along the perimeter to try and tempt them home.
The rabbits are all spayed or neutered, so are not digging burrows or hollowing out nesting areas, she said. "They are just grazing."
But the priority is to get sanctuary improvements completed before an Environment Ministry inspection Thursday, Vickery said.
"We have to get it as good as it can be or I am going to lose my permit," she said.
"If they are not satisfied, they will catch all the animals and, because they have nowhere to put them, they will kill them."
The sanctuary was inspected by Environment Ministry staff before the rabbits arrived.
Since the escape, controversy has erupted and signs have been posted around Coombs asking why government allowed the rabbits to come to the area and questioning how much more damage will be done.
The rabbits are among 400 former pets and their offspring trapped at UVic then sterilized and sent to sanctuaries in Coombs, Cowichan Station and Texas. UVic's aim is to trap and relocate up to 1,400 of the feral rabbits that have been living on campus.