Rabbits gnaw away on the soil embankment next to the Helmcken Road interchange in View Royal at the Trans-Canada Highway. While a large number of the animals were transported from the site some months ago

Rabbits still being released onto View Royal exit median

New security measure coming to the Helmcken interchange

Despite efforts from a local group of volunteers and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, people are still abandoning rabbits on the Helmcken interchange in View Royal.

According to the province, approximately 20 adult rabbits have recently been released at the interchange, creating another hurdle for crews trying to trap and relocate the area’s rabbit population.

In an attempt to discourage any more animals from being abandoned at the site, new signs and a security camera will soon be installed to help monitor the area for any unauthorized activity, which includes members of the public feeding the remaining rabbits. Crews will also begin repairing areas damaged by the rabbit burrows, including compromised roadways and sidewalks, the embankment and landscaping.

“Thanks to the dedication and best efforts of Ministry staff and a group of local volunteers, only a few rabbits are left to be captured at the interchange,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone in a release. “Despite this hard work, additional rabbits are still being dropped off. This is very disappointing, and means we have to put new measures in place to protect the travelling public as well as our transportation infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, the Ministry announced it would be re-locating the original population of roughly 100 rabbits to a private sanctuary in the United States. A local volunteer group that included Hillside Veterinary Hospital vet Laurie Gaines had approached the Ministry last fall, offering the funds to spay or neuter and relocate the rabbits.

“The rescue group is very happy that approximately 100 rabbit lives will be saved as a result of this project. However, we are shocked and saddened that individuals continue to abandon rabbits at the Helmcken overpass site,” Gaines stated in the same release. “Abandoning pets outdoors is an unacceptable practice. Trespassing on the median and feeding the rabbits is also unacceptable. Anyone who is feeding the rabbits needs to stop immediately so that we have the best chance of rescuing the remaining animals.”

The Ministry is reminding the public that by releasing rabbits beside the highway, they are not only putting the animals at risk, but putting road users in danger. The province also warned that if rabbits continue to be abandoned at the site, it will be forced to consider other solutions, including euthanization.

Under the Wildlife Act, abandoning or releasing animals can result in a fine of $345 per offence.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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