When a neighbor turned his domestic rabbits loose on the Rochester prairie last year and then moved away, Edith Emerson was left with an emergency: Dozens of rabbits were freely breeding all around her home.
The good news is, seven months later, all the surviving feral rabbits have been trapped alive, and there have been no new litters for three months. Emerson said she caught about 50 rabbits and those rabbits had three litters.
Many of the rabbits have been spayed, neutered and adopted, but 18 still need the surgery.
“I can’t even start to adopt them (out) until they’re fixed,” Emerson said. She also helps pairs of rabbits bond, because they are more successful as pets when adopted in pairs.
Emerson has been working through Concern For Animals, which has contracted a rate of $80 for spaying or neutering.
Sarah Hinman, executive director at Concern for Animals, said the nonprofit gets a much-reduced rate for the surgeries, which are significantly more expensive than the same procedures on cats. Rabbits can be sensitive to anesthesia, and most rabbit-care resources recommend finding a veterinarian who is experienced with rabbits.
Emerson needs about $1,500 to complete the neutering and hopes that people will donate to Concern for Animals toward that goal. The rabbits’ other needs — cages, bedding, food and labor — have been donated by other rabbit groups and volunteers, Emerson said.
Between her trapping efforts and predation by coyotes and dogs, Emerson hasn’t seen a feral rabbit in months. Feral domestic rabbits can become a huge problem. The area around the Microsoft campus in Redmond has been occupied by as many as 1,000 feral rabbits. And in northeast Portland, a capture, spay and neuter effort removed 751 rabbits from the 22-acre Glendoveer Golf Course and Park in the late 1990s.
Emerson’s remaining rabbits are black and white, brown and white, lops and a few that look to be part Angora. Emerson said the breeds are Polish cross, English lops and rexes. Rex-coated rabbits have a velveteen-like fur.
Emerson creates bonded pairs by putting a couple next to each other. If they get along, she puts them together for longer periods.
“They do very well that way. This way when they do get adopted out, we don’t have to worry about them breeding, they live longer, are healthier, cleaner and not so destructive,” she said
Emerson said she won’t keep any for herself.
“What I need to do for me is to get them adopted. It’s just too much work.”
Individuals or organizations willing to help should contact Sarah Hinman at Concern for Animals at 360-489-1478 or email@example.com.