Gary Purvess

Feral rabbits concern to south Nanaimo neighbourhood

NANAIMO - Harewood residents dealing with damage from domestic rabbits gone wild.

There’s no such thing as a native rabbit on Vancouver Island, but colonies of feral rabbits are vexing residents of a Harewood subdivision where they’ve made themselves at home.

Gary Purvess, who moved to Southwood Drive in March, looks up and down his street and points out bark stripped from trees, foliage chewed from shrubs, lawns with craters from digging, and pitted gravel paths and driveways – all damage caused by feral rabbits.

“I even found a hole where they tried to dig under the foundation of my house,” Purvess said.

He and his neighbours place chicken wire around the bases of shrubs and over small gardens to prevent the rabbits from chewing up the neighbourhood landscaping.

“It’s the only way we can do it,” Purvess said.

But not everything can be protected with wire fencing. A neighbour’s lawn, planted in the spring, has been ruined by burrowing bunnies.

“I’ve talked with [city] animal control twice about rabbits and they said, ‘Well, we can’t do anything,’ so I’ve been trapping them and kind of gotten the numbers down around our place,” he said.

Purvess and a neighbour have trapped about 12 rabbits so far and relocated them outside city limits. He said many of the animals come from a property on Park Avenue where they’re finding shelter and food for the winter, but plenty of feral rabbits call undeveloped lots surrounding the neighbourhood home as well.

There are two basic kinds of rabbit on the Island: European domestic rabbits, originally introduced by settlers, and the eastern cottontail, first spotted in 1964 around Sooke. Both have spread throughout much of the east side of the Island, continue to breed like, well, rabbits and are classified by the province as Schedule C wildlife.

“Which means they are an invasive species, which means they can be removed by the property owner,” said Kevin Brydges, city environmental bylaw enforcement officer. “Private property owners are responsible for their own properties.”

Brydges went on to say feral rabbits cause significant infrastructure damage to sports fields, underground utility systems and building structures and pose user safety issues. The city has been engaged in meetings over urban bunnies with stakeholders that include Vancouver Island University and Nanaimo school district since September.

“We’re currently looking into hiring a consultant to develop a management plan,” Brydges said. “As part of that we’re going to look at populations because right now, other than saying ‘lots’ we have no idea. Those are the things we’re hoping to get more information on in the near future.”

There is a city bylaw against feeding rabbits, with possible $100 fines.

Just Posted

Nanoose Bay Art in the Garden celebrates 10th year

Photos from the two-day show which featured 100 artists, more than ever before

Complex with more than 200 apartments pitched for Nanaimo’s south end

Construction planned for next spring on Junction Avenue in Chase River

Historian recalls Nanaimo’s drunken disorder back in 1890

Imagine the seamen’s surprise when they found themselves inside a brewery, writes columnist

South end heritage celebrated with Miners’ Picnic

27th annual event was held Saturday at Deverill Square Park

Timbermen beat league’s first-place team

Nanaimo’s senior A lacrosse team handles Maple Ridge Burrards 11-6

South end heritage celebrated with Miners’ Picnic

27th annual event was held Saturday at Deverill Square Park

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

How the Vancouver Island flag flew under the radar for over a century

A B.C. history buff created the flag in the ’80s, 100 years after it was ordered

Nanaimo a prime market for new plane, Air Canada says

Vice-president previews Airbus A220, praises Nanaimo’s growth in passenger numbers

Late-night summer sailings to Horseshoe Bay won’t connect with buses

B.C. Ferries advises passengers on 10:40 p.m. sailings to look at other transportation options

Most Read