Friday, May 21, 2010
Ecology for Dummies, part 2.
So what to do with all these pesky rabbits?
Well, UVic is trapping and culling the rabbits that live near the stadium. Grounds personel say that the rabbit burrows are a threat to athletes, who train on the grounds and could break a leg if they stepped into/through a rabbit hole. They have trapped and killed over a hundred this month, but haven’t said how many more they plan to exterminate.
Here is the problem. Trapping and killing a few or even say half the population is useless. Rabbits are highly fecund animals and if a portion of the population is suddenly wiped out, more individuals from the remaining population will survive and inhabit the recently opened space. This is Ecology 101. So although they are culling some rabbits, the effect of removing those individuals from the population will last all of about two months, if that.
There are two solutions to UVic’s rabbit problem. 1) Cull every bunny on campus. 2) Capture, spay/neuter, and release as many as bunnies as possible (like a few hundred). By sterilizing and releasing the rabbits, rather than killing them, the bunnies will no longer reproduce but continue to occupy a niche in the environment. Culling every rabbit is probably rabbit is not very feasible, but a spay/neuter program could be a good compromise. UVic “tried” a spay/neuter program in February, with a whopping 40 animals. They weren’t wowed by the results and moved forward with the current cull.
This cull is cruel and unnecessary. Rabbits that have never been handled by humans would be highly stressed by the entire process. Trapping, transport, and eventual euthanasia is no fun for a semi-wild animal. Who knows how long they wait in traps, or wait to be taken to the Vet, or wait to be euthanized, all in terror. Plus, given that it is spring, many of these recently culled animals likely left behind dependant offspring, who would have subsequently died of dehydration. All for NO good reason, as another bun-bun is simply going to take their place.
Same on UVic for not thinking this one through.
On another note, I am about to dive into the above pictured chocolate cake. Drool. Thanks, Mom! I promise to be more cheerful tomorrow ;)