Rabbitats has been trying to address the Vegas issue and help them out for awhile, but we didn’t have a lot of information and we’ve been time challenged with some of our own issues. Now I see there were some important things we could have advised on, so sorry we dropped that ball.
When the Rabbitats founder (Sorelle) worked on the UVic rescue (903 rescued and relocated) and the Richmond Auto Mall rescue (300+ rescued and relocated) we learned it was imperative to clear the areas in a grid so that ALL the rabbits in any given area were removed. Any rabbits wandering into that area were then easy to spot and catch before they started families. Picking up numbers of random rabbits did not work. I’m sure the rescuers are now realizing this, given how the poisoning issue spurred the successful removal of most of that dump site’s rabbits.
We also operated on the premise that it was the property’s responsibility to cover the costs they would have spent regardless to remove the rabbits. The same issue happened at UVic with the University trying to send a budget to a rescue who was unsuccessful at making a dent, and people only stepped forward to donate when there was a lethal cull.
We approached the landowners with proposals that quoted the costs of lethal removal by pest control companies and the costs of landscaping repairs. We asked for these budgets to be re-allocated to rescue and they complied. Fundraising made up the difference.
The other failings were based in the rescuers trying to rehome the rabbits as house bunnies. While we did rehome the recently dumped rabbits to pet homes, the rest were rounded up, sterilized and placed in secure, predator proof and escape proof colonies in rural locations. With this method we were able to house dozens to hundreds at once, the enclosures were cheap to build and our designs made for very low maintenance. The rabbits can be very cheap to feed considering they were well able to survive on the natural foods in their environment before. Grass, hay, tree branches, bushes, etc, provide very low cost feed.
It is very possible to control these rabbits when it’s done correctly. It’s just been a learning curve.
Once the existing colonies are rounded up and new arrivals controlled, the pet rabbit world needs to address how to close off the supply with the municipalities including rabbits in their animal control programs (the same as cats and dogs), strict rules and regulations about breeding, spays/neuters, pet shop sales, etcetera. This is really not the overwhelming problem it appears to be.