State, federal officials try to tackle feral rabbit problem

  • Monday, November 9, 2015 10:54pm
  • News

JUNEAU (AP) — A “Bunny Task Force” has been created in an effort to help control Juneau’s growing population of feral rabbits.

Stephanie Sell, biologist with the Department of Fish and Game, formed the group in response to the increasing number of complaints issued to the department about the rabbits in the Mendenhall Valley, The Juneau Empire reported. Sell estimates that there are “upwards of a couple hundred” rabbits now living in the valley.

The Bunny Task Force is comprised of members from Animal Control, the Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service, the Gastineau Humane Society and the Juneau Police Department.

“It took several years for this partnership to blossom and become what it is today,” said Animal Control officer Ben Peyerk.

While officials can’t say exactly where the rabbits have come from, most people familiar with the problem say someone brought the animals to Juneau and then released them into the wild.

The number of rabbits turned over to the Gastineau Humane Society has steadily increased over the past few years, but this year the shelter has been especially hard hit, Peyerk said.

Between April and July of this year, the Humane Society took in more than 20 rabbits and spent more than $16,000 caring for the animals.

This summer, the Forest Service began reporting rabbit sightings at the glacier for the first time. John Neary, director of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, said he and his staff have seen them on numerous occasions.

“You always wonder how many more there might be that you’re not seeing,” Neary said.

In order to control the rabbit population, Fish and Game officials have been handing out traps to community members who are interested in capturing the rabbits. People can call the Humane Society or Fish and Game once they trap a rabbit to have it picked up.

The Humane Society will spay and neuter any rabbits caught and put them up for adoption. Fish and Game will euthanize the rabbits and donate them to the Juneau Raptor Center and the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines, where they will be used to feed raptors.

“We just need people’s help at this point,” Sell said. “We need the community’s help if we are going to put a dent in this.”

More in News

The sign in front of the Homer Electric Association building in Kenai, Alaska as seen on April 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
HEA returning capital credits to members

Members will be issued credits based on the amount of electricity they purchased in 2019.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Holiday enforcement citations up from last year

Around major holidays, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers conduct extra traffic enforcement as part of a national safety campaign.

Central Peninsula Hospital as seen March 26, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
CEO: Hospital at risk of being overrun

CPH has exceeded its bed capacity multiple times and a surge area has been opened in a former obstetric unit.

Ice chokes the Homer Harbor on Jan. 9, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. North Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to take final action on a fishery management plan for commercial fishing in Upper Cook Inlet this week. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Cook Inlet salmon fishery issue to be decided by North Pacific Fishery Management Council

Fishermen, processors take issue with option to close waters to commercial fishing

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Man allegedly leads troopers on high-speed chase

The man faces charges of assault and reckless driving.

A microscopic look of the COVID virus. Photo: CDC
Peninsula reports 80 new cases, 65 in central

All peninsula communities reported at least one new case except for Fritz Creek

A microscopic look of the COVID virus. Photo: CDC
DHSS: 519 new cases, 1 new death

Affected peninsula communities include Kenai, Soldotna, Homer, Nikiski, Sterling and Other North

Linda Farnsworth Hutchings, left, and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, right, participate in a mayoral candidate forum hosted by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center on Sept. 9, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Farnsworth-Hutchings vying for vacant Soldotna council seat

The interviews can be watched live on Wednesday

Most Read