Friday, July 10, 2009

Wildlife contraception


Here we are in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, housed in the student accommodations at the University of Victoria and taking in as many stories as we can at the annual national conference of the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada.

Of course the stories have been marvelous, and we look forward to the main even tomorrow night when tellers from across Canada will enthrall us with their Tales At Eventide

From wildlife point of view there is something else just as intriguing. The place is overrun with rabbits. Rabbits of every imaginable colour. The key is that there are no native rabbits on this island. We have been told that the whole thing may have started when one or two folks decided that their Christmas bunny, purchased for the family, may not have been as convenient a pet as had been envisioned. Or maybe it was a real live, as opposed to chocolate, Easter bunny. Anyway, there is lots of green grass on the campus, so what could be a nicer place to dump dear Cuddles. Lots of grub, equable climate, no problems. Of course one became two as someone else had the same idea.

Biology 101 kicked in. Two became more than four, as these creatures breed like… well, like rabbits. The whole thing put me in mind of Hitchcock's movie The Birds, although it hasn't quite reached that level yet. Given time and biology...?

In New York surplus reptiles, especially crocs, are dealt with by what is called Hydrotherapy. This means that they are flushed down into the city’s sewer system. Not an option for bunnies.

What to do? Now come island culture.
As one of our storytellers related this morning, Vancouver islanders, and especially Victorians, tend to be a bit eccentric, so the notion of a control program, or rabbit stew, is out of the question. So much so, that there are posters everywhere asking us to leave the rabbits alone.

Surplus deer are almost as bad a problem in many island communities. They are in gardens and parks from Comox to Nanaimo, through Duncan and in Victoria. Thank good ness they don’t breed like rabbits. Can you imagine!

Someone is going to have to deal with this one, and the politics is going to be the biggest headache. Thank goodness for retirement!

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