Bunny Advocates Say Education Is Key To The Feral Rabbit Problem
While many people find bunnies to be adorable balls of fluff, rabbits are also animals known for breeding - fast.
And that's led to a big overpopulation problem in Las Vegas -- overpopulation of rabbits that were once pets.
"There are thousands. It's out of control," Maria Perez with the Las Vegas House Rabbit Society told KNPR's State of Nevada.
The chain of events is simple, she said. People buy a rabbit from a pet store or backyard breeder and they don't have the animal spayed or neutered, which is required by law. Just like with other animals, having a rabbit fixed improves their behavior. If a rabbit is not fixed, they can have problematic chewing, burrowing and eating habits.
Perez said a bunny will destroy something important to its owner and the owner will dump the animal at several dumping sites around the city, especially parks and golf courses.
"They’re companion animals; they don’t need to be out there,” she said.
Perez got involved 16 years ago when she found rabbits living in her housing community. She eventually removed more than 50 rabbits from her neighborhood.
Stacey Taylor had a similar experience three years ago. At a park, she found a burrow of baby bunnies, but she couldn't find a veterinarian to help the bunnies in time.
That experience prompted her to research the problem.
“Once I educated myself, I realized this is really bad,” Taylor said.
Now, three or four times a week, she goes out to one of the more popular bunny dumping sites to feed and water the animals. She finds injured rabbits and takes them to the animal hospital.
Taylor also works to find homes for the animals she can catch through what she has termed the "bunderground railroad."
And while Perez appreciates what Taylor and other animals advocates are doing for the animals, she believes state and local government, business owners around the dump sites and the general public need to do more to control the problem in the first place.
“What we need is funding, and laws and cameras in these parks and...find these people when they dump a rabbit,” she said.
Perez would also like to see legislation that holds bunny breeders and rabbit sellers accountable.
Maria Perez, president, Las Vegas House Rabbit Society; Stacey Taylor, independent rabbit advocate