Nanaimo Animal Control Services says it recovered an unusually high number of dead rabbits in the Rotary Bowl area Feb. 27. (News Bulletin file)

UPDATED: A dozen dead rabbits discovered at Rotary Bowl

Nanaimo Animal Control Services says an ‘unusual number’ of dead rabbits recovered

Nanaimo Animal Control Services recovered an abnormally large number of dead rabbits in and around Rotary Bowl stadium this morning.

Carley Colclough, control services’ pound coordinator, said “approximately 12” were found on Tuesday, although maintenance staff may have also dealt with some bodies. There was no obvious reasons for the deaths, she said.

“We did pick up an unusual number of deceased rabbits today,” said Colclough. “It is a little suspicious because while we pick up a lot of deceased rabbits, it’s usually one or two at a time and this was a higher number, but we don’t have any cause or any reason yet. It’s under investigation.”

The rabbits that animal control services usually picks up are ones that are typically killed by cars, Colclough said.

Colclough said the information will be forwarded to B.C. SPCA, which will decide whether to investigate and if so, will determine the cause of death.

Tina Heary, B.C. SPCA senior animal protection officer, said the SPCA is aware of the situation and is looking into it.

“It’s very preliminary right now,” said Heary. “Initial stages always involve making contact with those who might have some information and so we are making a number of inquiries today.”

Rotary Bowl is close to Vancouver Island University campus and in a statement, Erin Bascom, VIU health and safety advisor, said the health and safety department has received reports of dead rabbits for the past two weeks, with “no obvious signs of trauma.”  

Bascom said the university contacted B.C. government’s Wildlife Health Program, which is conducting an investigation.

In an e-mail, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said the cause of death will take up to two weeks to determine.

Nanaimo Animal Control Services has a contract with the City of Nanaimo for animal control services, including pickup of dead animals.

In 2017, animal control services recovered 174 dead rabbits, according to Colclough.

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