Rabbits continue to be dropped off at the Helmcken interchange. These rabbits have multiplied, creating a hazard for all road users and undermining the road and sidewalks. In the coming weeks, new signs and a security camera will be installed on Highway 1 at the interchange to discourage the abandonment of rabbits there.
“Thanks to the dedication and best efforts of ministry staff and a group of local volunteers, only a few rabbits are left to be captured at the interchange,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. “Despite this hard work, additional rabbits are still being dropped off. This is very disappointing, and means we have to put new measures in place to protect the travelling public as well as our transportation infrastructure.”
Soon, the ministry will install signs that prohibit rabbit drop-offs and shortly after, a new security camera will monitor the area for unauthorized activities. Crews will also begin repairing the areas damaged by the rabbit burrows, including the sidewalks, embankment and landscaping.
The continued abandonment of rabbits by the public have made these steps necessary. Considerable progress had been made in capturing, spaying and neutering, and transferring the rabbits that were inhabiting the Helmcken interchange area. The project was almost complete when approximately 20 more adult rabbits were released at the location.
Unfortunately, the financial resources contributed by the Province and generously donated by the group of local volunteers to rescue these rabbits are limited. In the future, the ministry will be forced to consider other solutions, which may include euthanization for any new rabbits found at the Helmcken interchange.
“The rescue group is very happy that approximately 100 rabbit lives will be saved as a result of this project. However, we are shocked and saddened that individuals continue to abandon rabbits at the Helmcken overpass site,” said Dr. Laurie Gaines. “Abandoning pets outdoors is an unacceptable practice. Tresspassing on the median and feeding the rabbits is also unacceptable. Anyone who is feeding the rabbits needs to stop immediately so that we have the best chance of rescuing the remaining animals.”
The ministry and local volunteers would like to remind the public that anyone who drops off a rabbit at this area not only endangers the rabbits themselves but also risks injuring drivers. If you are no longer able to keep your pet, please contact an animal shelter and always have your pets spayed or neutered. Under the Wildlife Act, releasing or abandoning animals carries possible fines of $345 per offence.