Thursday, May 20, 2010

Man Versus Nature, Part I

I believe we have written before about the “UVic Bunnies,” a swarm of rabbits that infest the grounds of the University of Victoria, and the problem of what to do about them.

There are two sides to this issue.

One the one side, rabbits are in point of fact terrible pests. They dig warrens everywhere, they pass ringworm easily on to humans, they can contribute to erosion and other ground problems, they can bite causing tentanus, and they breed like ... well, rabbits.

On the other side, they are extremely fluffy and cute. Girls love them. What’s more, they’ve given the University a tourist attraction and note of distinction that separates them from any other public institution we know of.

So you see the problem.

Recently, when the rabbits began causing significant damage to the athletic areas, the decision was finally taken to do something about them. Despite a plethora of suggestions, from the offer for free neutering from local vets to the publishing of a recipe for rabbit stew in the student newspaper (the latter of which was swiftly punished by bunny-loving female students against the male journalist in question), the college decided to go with a limited “cull” of rabbits, trapping and then euthanising the ones they claimed were causing damage.

This, of course, turned out not to be true. Bunnies from all over the campus, not just the promised areas, were being trapped. So students have taken to disrupting the cull by topping traps and distributing food. It has gotten to the point where the police have been called in.

In our opinion, both sides are being a bit ridiculous.

There are, at present, around 2,000 rabbits on the campus -- and yes, they cause damage and something needs to be done. If these were rats instead of rabbits, the answer would be much clearer.

But they aren’t, so the college should take student support into consideration and at least try the “neutering” solution first. And the students who love the cute fluffy things need a little education on the downsides of letting these rodents run free.

We personally are generally pro-bunny, as it’s not their fault that they are there in the first place -- it’s the college’s fault. The original population was created by the release of lab bunnies as well as students abandoning pets. The university clearly allowed the problem to get to where it is now over the course of many years, and the fact that they only moved to action when their precious athletic program was inconvenienced shows off the priorities of the school in a fairly damning manner.

A modest and sustainable way to manage the rabbit population -- and to provide areas of safety for them -- seems like the best solution to us. You’re never going to convince young girl students that rabbits are pests, and the students have made it clear they’re not going to allow the school to conduct bunny-cide on their watch.

A little animal-friendly thinking will, we think, produce a solution that will diffuse this "hare-y" situation.


Anonymous said...

So you have Man Versus Nature.

What about Man Versus Woman?

And more importantly, what about Man Versus The Empire Brain Building?

chas_m said...

Even more important, what about MAN V. ASTRO-MAN??!!!

Anonymous said...

aw, the bunnies are so cute!

if they think rabbits are destructive, they should try living with FOUR housecats (Lana, Tala, Roland and Mezz aka "the Kids") like i do :)