Letter from the International Humane Society to Dave Turpin

Dr. David H. Turpin
University of Victoria
PO Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria BC
V8W 2Y2

May 3rd, 2010

Dear Dr. Turpin,

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than eleven million members and constituents globally. On behalf of our members in Canada, I am writing regarding the plight of the rabbits currently residing on your campus grounds.

HSI Canada was dismayed to learn that the University of Victoria is planning to conduct a mass killing of the campus rabbit community. There are non-lethal population control methods available that have proven successful in other situations. As a respected institution of higher education, it would behoove you to fully explore and apply such a method.

In particular, HSI Canada urges you to accept the generous offer put forward by Dr. Nick Shaw, a local veterinarian who has volunteered his services to the university and the University of Victoria's Feral Rabbit Long-Term Management Plan. It is our understanding that Dr. Shaw is prepared to undertake, at no cost to the university, a feasibility study and if successful, then the vasectomising of the campus’ male rabbit population.

We feel Dr. Shaw’s plan has great potential for success as it would require less than half the population be captured. The vasectomised male rabbits would retain their territorial nature and the females would have non-reproductive estrus periods. As a result, the resident, low-reproducing rabbit population would begin decreasing in size due to natural factors, until there is a small, sustainable rabbit population residing on campus.

We also encourage the University of Victoria to set up a vigorous responsible pet ownership program aimed at faculty, staff, students and the general public. As you know, most of the rabbits residing on campus are unwanted pets or descendants of unspayed or unneutered pets that were abandoned there.
The university should actively promote responsible pet ownership and highlight the dangers of an outdoor life (predation, disease, cars, harassment by humans,) emphasizing the fact that abandoned pets often live short and difficult lives.

The University of Victoria has been presented with a wonderful opportunity to take on a leadership role in ethical environmental stewardship, to promote respect for nature and local accountability and to provide research information to other institutes experiencing similar issues, all at no cost to the university. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity and make the progressive choice to 1) accept Dr. Shaw’s generous offer 2) allow the vasectomised rabbits to be re-released on campus 3) assure everyone involved that no cull will occur and 4)
engage in a compelling responsible pet-ownership campaign to prevent more pets from being abandoned.

Thank you for your consideration on this important matter.


Rebecca Aldworth