The damage from feral rabbits in Royal Bay has some residents frustrated. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The damage from feral rabbits in Royal Bay has some residents frustrated. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Colwood seeks solution as rabbits run rampant in Royal Bay

Staff note an impact on infrastructure, impending hazards

Colwood council has directed city staff to hop to it and find solutions to manage the exploding rabbit population in Royal Bay.

The issue, which jumped up during the Oct. 26 regular meeting of council, is the result of efforts to transform the dusty gravel pit in Royal Bay into a lush green neighbourhood, noted a spokesperson for Colwood.

A brief to council from public works service co-ordinator John Russell said the increase in feral rabbits inhabiting public and private land in Royal Bay has led to conflict with humans and infrastructure in the area.

Although small colonies of feral rabbits have been present in Colwood for years, the beautification of Royal Bay has provided an increase in food and water, causing them to flourish. The rabbits are now entrenched, taking up residence under front porches and using vehicles to provide cover from predators as they move throughout the neighbourhood, grazing on shrubs and grass.

READ ALSO: Bunny owners beware, feral rabbits die of ‘highly infectious’ virus in Saanich

“Many residents awake each morning in consternation at the impact that has happened overnight through burrowing and foraging,” Russell noted.

That has caused some people to replant their gardens multiple times, spray plants or convert to rock to limit the digging. “The ability of these two groups to coexist has become strained as residents find themselves exasperated trying to cope with the expanding population.”

Staff has noticed an impact on infrastructure throughout Royal Bay. In addition to burrow-riddled garden beds, sidewalks are littered with soil and plant debris. That raises concerns about potential trip hazards and future damage to infrastructure, as well as the risk of conflict with vehicles.

Any effort to manage the rabbits would require a co-ordinated effort, with residents, landowners and the city sharing the responsibility. Concerted efforts would require a budget, the brief concluded.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said he’s confident council will find an acceptable solution. “It’s an issue many communities have grappled with so we have experiences and approaches to draw guidance from,” Martin added.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com


 

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