Government red tape is preventing an animal rescue group from trying to tackle the growing rabbit population at the Richmond Auto Mall.
Rabbitats Rabbit Rescue wants to trap and relocate the abandoned domesticated bunnies, but they say government policy is stopping them.
“We had a permit to ship 50 rabbits to a sanctuary in Washington State,” said Rabbitats director Sorelle Saidman. “The government policy is to only export the rabbits, for some reason they won’t let us set up sanctuaries in B.C.”
Saidman said they ended up with around 20 rabbits that were not healthy enough to go to the Washington State sanctuary, so they asked for changes to the permit so the bunnies could go to private homes in B.C.
Although the rescue group has had numerous offers to take in the rabbits, including a hobby farm and homes with acreage, the Department of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has denied permission.
“They’re trying to help… but right now these little guys are classified as wildlife and there’s just nowhere they can go according to the government.” Saidman said.
Meanwhile, the original permit has expired, leaving the fate of all 50 rabbits in limbo.
Although the ministry told Global News they are committed to getting all of the rabbits into safe homes, right now many are still at the auto mall – a dangerous place for a bunny to be.
The issue of the over-population of bunnies is also frustrating for the auto mall.
“The breeding rabbits mean we’re going to have to trap mothers and leave babies in the nest, which is upsetting. The budget is going to balloon. It’s a terrible hardship on all of us. It’s insane. There’s no common sense here,” said Richmond Auto Mall manager Gail Terry in a statement to Rabbitat.
While the bunnies wait to be saved, they will continue to multiply.
“We left 15 or 20 on the grounds thinking we’d be able to trap them before anything happened, but they started breeding and multiplying and soon enough we’ll be back where we were,” Saidman said.
With files from Jennifer Palma