The rabbits often seen grazing on the sides of the Trans Canada Highway and the Helmcken interchange in View Royal will soon have a new home.
A plan is now in place to move the population of roughly 80 rabbits to a private sanctuary in Texas. A professional trapper will soon begin capturing the rabbits, after which they will be spayed or neutered by local veterinarians, then relocated once healthy enough.
“I think it’s great,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech, who joked that he won’t miss having to talk about rabbits on the site. “We’re thrilled to see it happening. We’ve been working with the province for two or three years to get something going there.”
A local volunteer group, including Hillside Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Laurie Gaines and recent University of Victoria law graduate Erin Gray, approached the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the fall, offering the funds to spay or neuter and relocate the rabbits.
These rabbits need to be removed, according to the ministry, because they create a distraction for drivers and a potential hazard for all road users. Their burrows also undermine the sidewalk and affect the ability to maintain the median. Once all the rabbits have been relocated, crews will begin repairing damage done by the burrows and harden existing infrastructure to discourage future attempts at recolonization.
For safety reasons and to ensure the success of the trapping efforts, the ministry is reminding drivers not to stop, feed, pet or catch the rabbits. They are also reminding the public that abandoning pet rabbits outside is an unfair and inhumane practice that creates public safety issues. The ministry is encouraging residents that are no longer able to keep their pets to contact an animal shelter and to always have pets spayed or neutered.