UVic LGL Report - culling methods

Excerpt From: Feral Rabbit Inventory in Selected Areas of the University of Victoria Campus
Submitted to: Office fo the Vice-President Finance and Operations, University of Victoria
Submitted by: LGL Limited; Environmental Research Associates July 24, 2008

Direct animal control can be approached in at least two different ways: live-trapping and shooting. Each approach has pros and cons. Trapping may be more appealing from the viewpoint of public perception. Conversely, trapping will be fairly labour intensive and the chances of it being a successful method are less certain than shooting. Trapping may, however, be a necessary precursor to a shooting program in order to improve the defensibility of shooting as an appropriate means of population control.
Trapping would involve the live-capture of animals that would then be euthanized and properly disposed of off-campus. Standard Tomahawk/Havahart style traps could be placed under vegetative cover in the vicinity of rabbit concentrations. To improve capture rates, traps should be pre-baited for a few days with highly palatable foods (e.g., apple, grain). Traps should be set in the evening and checked the following morning. The ability of trapping to efficiently meet the objectives of population reduction should be assessed in a pilot area prior to initiating a trapping program over a broader area of the campus. Live-capture using hand-held fishing nets could also be attempted in areas where rabbits can be approached closely, but the effectiveness of this technique would likely diminish rapidly after the first few animals were caught.
Night-time shooting using a high-velocity .177 calibre air rifle with scope designed for low-light conditions, is an efficient way to cull rabbits. The use of a firearm on campus would require approval from, and up-to date communications with, security and law-enforcement authorities. Although operations would be conducted at night and air rifles are reasonably quiet, illumination (street, parking lot, security, athletic field) plus the fact that the project in in an urban environment would enhance the chances that one or more members of the general public would observe and report the shooter. Carcasses would be properly disposed of off-campus.  8