Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Coexisting with Wildlife from Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute

As human development progressively encroaches on wildlife habitat, conflicts between wildlife and people increase. Each year, in response to such actual or perceived conflicts, people turn to lethal control efforts to kill "offending" animals. In addition to being inhumane, lethal control efforts are generally doomed to fail, as they don't address the root causes of conflicts or provide long-lasting solutions.

The cornerstone of Born Free USA united with API's "Coexisting with Wildlife" campaign is the promotion of educated coexistence with our wild neighbors. Through advocacy at a variety of levels, we use our expertise to take aim at the needless killing of wildlife. We protect animals by educating people about the benefits of peaceful coexistence, providing tools and guidance for nonlethal conflict management, and publicizing solutions that can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place. We also use legislative and regulatory channels to speak for the wild animals who cannot speak for themselves.

Our "Coexisting with Wildlife" campaigns focus on two main areas: "nuisance" wildlife control, which is primarily an issue in urban and suburban areas, and lethal predator control, which occurs more in rural or agricultural regions. We are a recognized leader in the fight against both of these cruel and unnecessary practices.

Protecting Urban Wildlife

"Nuisance" wildlife control — in which people hire wildlife control operators to trap and kill animals in an attempt to mitigate conflicts — is a lucrative, growing, and largely unregulated industry with little accountability or even basic humane animal care and treatment standards.

"Animal damage" or "pest" control trappers — also known as Wildlife Control Operators, or WCOs — number in the tens of thousands nationwide. As urban sprawl increases, so do interactions between humans and wild animals. This has led to greater demand for WCO services, despite the fact that many conflicts between people and wildlife can be mitigated by simple changes in human behavior.

Individuals and businesses contract with WCOs to resolve conflicts between humans and wild animals. State and federal wildlife agencies have traditionally left resolution of such conflicts to individual initiative, and allow people to hire private wildlife control businesses that typically charge a fee for wildlife removal services. Unfortunately, the emphasis by the WCO industry is often on lethal removal of animals. Many WCOs are former or current fur trappers who do urban wildlife damage control trapping on the side.

Oversight of wildlife damage control businesses has lagged behind the industry's growth. State agencies have been hesitant to regulate the business practices of an industry they see as largely commercial in nature, although the wildlife control operators affect hundreds of thousands of wild animals annually. As a result, many states have almost no regulations providing proper oversight or defining humane care and handling of wildlife impacted by this trade.

We provide communities, homeowners, and other stakeholders conflict mitigation solutions and resources that are humane and designed for the long term.

Protecting Native Carnivores

The killing of native carnivores, or "predators" to benefit private interests is big business, and one of the government's most shameful secrets.

Each year, nearly 100,000 native carnivores are killed by the federal government on public and private lands across the United States. This slaughter is carried out by the Wildlife Services program (formerly Animal Damage Control), under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Lethal control is conducted primarily to protect privately owned livestock grazing on public lands, and also used to ensure "game" stocks for hunters or protect corporate-owned timberlands from being damaged by bears.

The primary methods used to kill native carnivores are cruel and indiscriminate. They include poisons, steel-jaw leghold traps, strangulation neck snares, denning (the killing of coyote pups in their dens), hounding, shooting, and aerial gunning.

We are committed to using legislation, litigation, and public education to stop this wasteful and unnecessary subsidy and the inhumane methods employed to kill native carnivores. We are a recognized leader in providing solutions to coyote/predator conflicts and helped develop a ground-breaking non-lethal predator and livestock protection in Marin County, California that is receiving international recognition. We are also part of the national Coalition to End Aerial Gunning.

Comment: When the human species encroaches and destroys the habitat of wild animals they find ways to survive.  Some actually thrive. This means that wildlife and human interests may come into conflict. Too often, such conflicts are addressed by killing animals — a practice known as "lethal control" or “culling.”  Doesn’t sound as bad as murder. However, lethal control methods are ethically repugnant to many of us, and are also ineffective, particularly in the long term.  Brutal and often non-selective, many animals suffer lingering and horrible deaths.  The key to successful conflict resolution usually involves modifying human behavior and simply removing attractants.   We cannot keep overpopulating ourselves and destroying the homes of other creatures with who we should be sharing this Earth.

Urban sprawl is a huge problem, and while we should be taking steps to control the procreation of the human species, we continually look to ways to eradicate so-called “pests” and worry more about our landscaping or flower beds, rather than wildlife who are just looking to survive.  Recently some residents of Nanaimo have become upset with deer coming onto their property or being forced to stop their vehicles in order to avoid a collision.  There were a couple of letters to the newspaper suggesting that “venison would be welcome.”  Talk about your selfish, ignorant, and cold-blooded people. ( Pamela Mar & Mary Lou Nordstrom, Nanaimo)

My response:      

People are more harmful to environment than deer

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 The Daily News (Nanaimo)

Re: 'Deer have become destructive pests' (Your Letters, Daily News, May 23)

Regarding letter writers and their heartless comments regarding deer populations, I have a proposal which I think is fair.

Firstly, though, I would have to say that it's more accurate to say that the human species is grossly overpopulated and that we are the ones who are "destructive pests."

Now, if you can't live in harmony with nature and the wonderful non-human species of this planet, instead of having to "relocate, cull, or bring in the cougars" for the deer, perhaps you can choose one of the aforementioned options for yourselves.

Carmina Gooch, North Vancouver

Wildlife myths and misconceptions debunked 

Myth 1: If you find a fawn alone, she has been orphaned.

Fact: It is quite common to see fawns alone. Fawns, lacking any scent to attract predators and incapable of keeping up with the doe in dangerous situations, are "parked" by the mother in various (quite often, peculiar) locations. The doe will visit the fawn two to three times a day. Until the fawn is 4 weeks old, you will rarely see it with the mother. Instead, the fawn relies on camouflage and lying still for protection during this vulnerable period. It's always best to leave fawns alone unless you know with certainty that the mother is dead and/or fawns are crying incessantly.

Myth 2: Baby bunnies have been abandoned.

Fact: Mothers visit the babies only two to three times per day to avoid attracting predators. If the nest is intact and there are no visible wounds, remove any pets and leave them there. When the eyes are open and they're as big as the palm of your hand, they are independent. Mother rabbits are very sensitive to human scent. If you put one back, just use a clean towel to remove any odor. Rabbits breed between February and September with a 28-day gestation period. Consequently, three to four litters of four to five babies are born each year.

Myth 3: If you touch a baby bird, the parents will abandon him/her.

Fact: Birds have a limited sense of smell, but are strongly bonded to their chicks. Parents will not abandon chicks handled by humans. The best thing humans can do if a baby bird falls from its nest, and is not well feathered and clearly learning how to fly, is to put him back in the nest. The parents will return to feed him. If the nest is destroyed, you can use a basket or a Cool Whip container. Simply punch holes in the bottom (to avoid drowning the babies when it rains), line the container with grass or the remaining nest, and tack up into the tree. (Be sure the container is not too deep as the parents won't fly into anything they can't see out of.)

Myth 4: If you see a raccoon during the day, he must be rabid.

Fact: Raccoons are opportunistic and will appear whenever food is around. Although normally nocturnal, it is not uncommon to see them during the day foraging for food, especially in spring and summer when the mother's energy levels are depleted by nursing cubs. However, if the animal is acting disoriented or sick, such as circling, staggering or screeching - in addition to being seen by day - contact a local animal control officer.

Myth 5: If you get close to a skunk, you'll get sprayed.

Fact: It is actually pretty difficult for a person to get sprayed by a skunk. These animals only spray to defend themselves, such as when a dog runs up and grabs them. Skunks cannot "reload" quickly and do not waste their odiferous weapon unless necessary. Instead, they will stamp their front feet as a warning to get you to back off. Skunks are also quite nearsighted so if one is encountered, simply talk softly and back away.

Myth 6: Opossums are vicious and rabid.

Fact: Opossums are the only marsupials north of Mexico and have more teeth (50 of them) than any other mammal in North America. The average female lives only about a year. Opossums are highly resistant to rabies, most likely due to their low body temperature. Opossums are also relatively benign creatures that defend themselves by hissing, teeth-baring and drooling. These are not a sign of rabies but rather a bluff to scare off potential predators. When their act doesn't work, they play dead.

Myth 7: Live trapping and relocating wild animals is humane.

Fact: The majority of relocated territorial mammals do not survive. In Indiana, a person relocating an animal must obtain prior permission from any property owner prior to release. Additionally, live-trapping can be indiscriminate and often fails to target the "nuisance" animal. Baiting a trap also attracts other animals to any given area - even those animals that don't typically frequent that location. It also causes orphaning of any youngsters that are inadvertently left behind.

Myth 8: Bats get tangled up in your hair if they fly near you.

Fact: The last place a bat wants to be is in your hair. Bats navigate using a complex sonar-like system called echolocation which allows them to "see" their world with precision. The misconception about bats flying in hair is based on a bat's swooping flight patterns when trapped in a confined space, like a house. The reason they swoop is not to fly into your hair, but to stay airborne.

Myth 9: Feeding bread to geese and ducks is OK.

Fact: Bread is bad for all birds because it offers little nutritional value. Severe health problems, including a debilitating condition called "Angel Wing" can be caused by bread diets. Feeding can also lead to dependency in ducklings and goslings who fail to learn how to find native foods on their own. Some birds can even become aggressive about being fed, which often leads to a tragic outcome if humans decide to remove them.

Myth 10: Canada geese stick around because they forgot how to migrate.

Fact: Geese who live in one place year-round do so through no fault of their own. Our "resident" birds are descendants of captive-bred geese introduced by wildlife agencies over several decades to restore "huntable" populations. Geese were also released by people who thought they would simply look nice on their ponds. As a result, transplanted geese never learned to migrate from their parents, but still thrive in our suburban landscapes. 

Comment:  In Spring many people find themselves coming into contact with wild animals that may appear to need assistance. Although this is often not the case, well intended individuals may feel compelled to intervene.  We can all educate ourselves as to animal behaviour, characteristics, and survival tactics of our outdoor friends through various humane societies, wildlife, and bird organizations.  There is an abundance of information on the Internet that will help us coexist in a peaceful and respectful manner with nature.  Remember, their lives are valuable and with human encroachment rapidly destroying their homes, we must work to keep them protected and to minimize any potential conflicts.  ANIMALS MATTER!  

February 1, 2013 B.C. government auctions off chance to kill a wild sheep

Auctioning right to shoot wild sheep is woolly headed 

Vancouver Sun, February 8, 2013  

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The provincial government is giving the highest bidder a chance to carry out a cold-blooded, calculated execution of a magnificent and defenceless wild mountain sheep. And it’s being justified in the name of “conservation fundraising.” Doesn’t anyone see the irony here?  

I suggest solutions without bloodshed, but perhaps that’s too radical a thought.  

Carmina Gooch, North Vancouver

December 12, 2015 California bighorn sheep numbers in B.C.'s Similkameen plummeting

February 5, 2016 Bighorn sheep in B.C. dying from domestic sheep pneumonia

Read more: Hateful human intolerance and action against the innocent; sadistic raccoon cruelty

Surrey beaver's death sparks outrage; Squamish unbelievably asks 'expert' EBB Environmental Consulting for advice; Gooch weighs in

Bears pay ultimate price of human action while man most dangerous of all; letters; 'trophy' victims