Published Monday, July 16, 2018 8:22PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 16, 2018 8:40PM EDT
An Alberta town remains divided over a controversial program to kill feral rabbits at a cost of nearly $300 per bunny.
Ten years ago, the Town of Canmore had an estimated 2,000 feral rabbits. They were former pets that had been breeding outdoors for decades in the tourist town near Banff.
In 2012, Canmore began trapping and euthanizing the rabbits because biologists believed that they were attracting dangerous wildlife like cougars, bears and coyotes.
Nearly 1,300 rabbits have since been caught at a cost of nearly $300 per rabbit, but they breed quickly and it’s not known whether trapping has managed to reduce the numbers.
Still, a recent report from the Bow Valley Human-Wildlife Coexistence Roundtable recommends that the trapping continue.
Mayor John Borrowman says the town is divided “50-50” but he sees the value of the program, not only because of the potential risk to humans from wildlife, but because of the potential risk to wildlife that may be euthanized if it wanders into town.
“What does it cost our society when a bear’s put down?” he said. “What does it cost our community if a cougar is attracted by a rabbit and the cougar turns to a human?”
Longtime resident Marlene Ffoulkes-Jones also wants to see the rabbits gone but for a different reason. She says the rabbits are “pests” that eat her tulips.
“I think they should just do a complete eradication,” she said. “They have to get more serious about it.”
Ken Anderson, who has lived in Canmore for 28 years, says he understands the concerns of some of his neighbours, but wants the rabbits to stay.
“It makes it sort of a cute, cuddly little place to live,” he said.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Kevin Fleming
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