Feral rabbits may look cute but western breeders are worried they may spread a fatal hemorrhagic virus. (Nigel Dowsett/Shutterstock)

Rabbit show cancelled due to deadly virus

A hemorrhagic virus has killed hundreds of feral rabbits on the western island of Vancouver and fears of infection have prompted a prominent rabbit club to postpone its 100th anniversary show originally scheduled for June. The Vancouver Island Rabbit Breeders Association purports to be one of the oldest continuous rabbit clubs in North America. Who knew there were eight rabbit breeding outfits in western Canada alone.

CBC reports that the Vancouver Island Rabbit Breeders Association is enforcing a self-imposed quarantine. It is not selling any rabbits, not allowing guests to visit  and it has closed its rabbit areas.  CBC also reports that several organizations including the Greater Vancouver Zoo are taking extra security measures such as banning petting activities.

Pet rabbits were abandoned and then multiplied rapidly on Vancouver Island in western Canada. (Dirk Meissner/The Canadian Press/file photo)

Virus easily spread

This virus is not a problem for humans or other animals but it is easily spread on clothing, foot wear or other items like dog leashes. It can be killed with a mild bleach solution.

Before you feel too sorry for the feral bunnies, you should know that they are considered by some to be a nuisance. In 2001, the University of Victoria was overrun with about 1,600 feral rabbits and a decade before that, Victoria General Hospital faced a similar problem.

Pet rabbits often abandoned

The growth of feral rabbit populations seems to have started when some pet owners got bored with their rabbits and simply abandoned them. This happens more often around Easter after people realize rabbits don’t make great pets.

The rabbits abandoned in Vancouver did what they do and multiplied rapidly. In September 2016, over 100 long-eared rabbits were rescued from where they had settled in the median of a busy highway and were sent by truck to a sanctuary in Texas, U.S.A.

Some people will clearly be upset that feral bunnies are dying but others won’t mind a decline in their numbers.

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