Bunnies believed to be abandoned at Esquimalt construction site cause concern among neighbours

Bunnies believed to be abandoned at Esquimalt construction site cause concern among neighbours

What started as a few burrows and seven rabbits a month ago could potentially turn into a major bunny problem near a construction site in Esquimalt, neighbours say.

At the former Rosemead Inn property in Esquimalt, signs of past burrowing are all that remain from what appears to be a once-bustling bunny habitat. Neighbours first noticed the burrows and roughly seven rabbits a month ago.

“There was a big bunny, I had seen and was like ‘what’s this big bunny [doing] in my front yard’ and then I hear that….she was going back and forth to the English Inn,” neighbour Lorraine Nygaard told CHEK News on Monday.

The developer for the project says crews realized the animals, believed to have been domestic and abandoned by their owners in the area, were dangerously close to where they’d be digging.

“We were actually putting in all the utilities in that section and that was our biggest concern, so when [a rabbit] came out we realized they were close,” said Aragon Properties community ambassador Jay Smith.

While two of the rabbits are now being fostered, there are concerns that their mother and the others have found new homes nearby.

“Everybody is mostly concerned for the well-being of the animals, but also if we get an explosion of rabbits eating everything and I know people around this area love their gardens,” says Smith.

They include gardens like Nygaard’s, who has avoided planting anything until the rabbit problem is solved.

“They’re going to eat everything and I recently invested quite a bit of money in what I thought was going to be a great spring garden,” she said.

Similar situations have played out at the University of Victoria and the Helmcken overpass, where rabbits took over in recent years.

But there aren’t many options for those working to rehome the bunnies, with local shelters full.

“There’s lots of rabbits but there aren’t enough people caring for them and being able to adopt them out,” said Smith.

Smith hopes the story serves as a reminder for people to be responsible pet owners.

“Just hope people can be responsible when getting a rabbit too and just not releasing [it] because domestic rabbits are not like wild rabbits,” he said.

In the meantime, neighbours and construction workers will be on the lookout until all the bunnies are accounted for.

The Rosemead Inn construction site in Esquimalt, where the abandoned bunnies were discovered, is part of a larger development project by Aragon Properties which is known as the Oakwoods project, a new condominium development being built on the 4.3-acre site.

The development will also include approximately 180 new low-rise condominium units and seven three-level townhomes.

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