Feral Rabbit Management Program
Feral rabbits in Canmore are domesticated pets that were inappropriately released. They are not native wildlife species.
Feral rabbits are a wildlife attractant and population control is an issue. Short gestation periods and large litters can mean that the population can grow from 2 to 70 within one year. In addition, they cause damage to public and private property and leave a significant amount of feces.
The Town of Canmore's Feral Rabbit Management Program hires a contractor to live trap, humanely euthanize, and store and transport the rabbits to beneficial end-use (such as feed at wildlife rehabilitation centers). The contractor may also provide assistance to residents who request assistance with removing feral rabbits from private property. The goal is to control and ultimately eliminate feral rabbits from the Town of Canmore.
Please note if you are a renter the request needs to come from the property owner. Please note that feral rabbit trapping has concluded for the 2022 season.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
December 14, 2022
Canmore has its first case of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD), which was verified by a PCR test by a lab at the University of Calgary. Another sample submitted to the lab showed favorably for RHD in the preliminary test. It is highly likely that the disease is spreading through Canmore's feral rabbit population.
Although it poses no risk to human health, RHD is a sudden, highly contagious and fatal viral disease that affects both domesticated and wild rabbits. Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood-stained noses caused by internal bleeding.
RHD outbreaks move rapidly through rabbit populations. In most cases, the virus kills such a high proportion of feral rabbits that the virus will disappear in the outbreak area. RHD can be spread through direct contact or exposure to an infected rabbit’s excretions or blood.
The virus can also survive and spread from carcasses, food, water, and any contaminated materials. People can spread the virus indirectly by carrying it on their clothing and shoes.
RHD poses risks to wild rabbits as a result of sharing time and space with feral rabbits. To date, there has been spillover of RHD in wild rabbits and hares across parts of the western United States, but we have not yet seen this spillover in Alberta.
RHD poses risks to pet rabbits, but not to any other household pets like cats, dogs, birds, etc. If you own a pet rabbit, be sure that you keep your pet indoors and away from shoes, articles of clothing, or equipment that may have come into contact with an outbreak area.
RHD poses no risks to human health.
If you see a dead feral rabbit, the carcass can be cleaned up to minimize environmental contamination by being placed inside two plastic bags and disposed of in a bear-proof garbage bin. Personal protective equipment, like gloves, should be used when handling a carcass.
Residents may also call Municipal Enforcement to help with the removal of a carcass or carcasses.
The Government of Canada has facts about RHD published here
We know that having yards filled with berry bushes and fruit trees can attract bears into in residential areas, putting wildlife and people at risk. Ornamental crabapple, chokecherry, and mountain ash trees, as well as buffaloberry that are laden with ripe fruit present a powerful seasonal attractant to foraging bears. As a result, bears have been food-conditioned to this available fruit and habituated to humans, leading to wildlife managers having to destroy or translocate numerous black bears from the community due to concerns for public safety.
But did you also know that it is against the law to let fruit or berries accumulate on trees, bushes, or the ground? Or that you can’t plant new fruit bearing trees in your yard? Fines can range between $250 - $10,000. The Community Standards Bylaw is designed to increase public safety, reduce negative human-wildlife interactions, reduce nuisances caused by wildlife entering the community, and enables our peace officers to address these issues if and when they arise. The bylaw can be found on this webpage.
In addition, many people are unaware that pet food and BBQs can also attract wildlife. Consider feeding your pets and storing pet food indoors. Keep your BBQ clean and take drip pans inside.
Visit www.wildsmart.ca for more information on living smart with wildlife. To watch the 25-minute documentary entitled Living with Wildlife, which takes a realistic look at the challenges and the constant pressures wildlife face, click here.
By late August and September, bears have depleted the buffalo berries and other native food sources in the valley bottom. As crabapples and other fruits begin to ripen on trees in Canmore, they attract bears to residential areas. Attracting bears to your yard can also result in opportunistic bears obtaining other human foods such as garbage and pet food.
It’s not enough to pick fruit off the ground — bears climb into trees in search of ripening fruit. If you have a fruit-bearing tree or shrubs, consider removing it. Fruit trees in residential areas of Canmore bring bears into the townsite.
If bears still come to these areas to check for available foods, when they find that the food is not there, they will move to other areas where berries are more abundant.
Voluntary Fruit Tree Removal Incentive Program
In an effort to reduce conflict between bears and people in Canmore, the Town of Canmore offers a voluntary fruit tree removal incentive program. Homeowners in all areas of town are invited to participate in the program, which will cover 50% of the cost of removal to a maximum of $300 if you use an arborist or tree removal service to remove your tree.
Buffalo berry grows along the edges of open areas which often include pathways, meadows, edges of residential areas, water bodies, and also can be present in our yards – essentially areas where humans live and play. In the Bow Valley, the berry season usually runs from mid-July until the end of August. Bears are attracted to this plentiful shrub and will eat tens of thousands of berries each day to store energy for their upcoming hibernation.
The Town of Canmore and the Province of Alberta are trying to keep both the bears and residents safe by removing buffalo berry bushes from high human-use areas. Some areas include Rundleview, Quarry Lake, Three Sisters Campground, Bow River Campground, and along trails in the Canmore Nordic Centre and at Grassi Lakes Trail.
Many residences also have buffaloberry growing in their backyards and gardens. These bushes become a prime attraction to bears, especially in residential areas adjacent to the wildland fringe. Bears feeding in private yards create a public safety concern. Residents can be WildSmart by learning how to identify buffalo berry bushes and remove them from their own property. For more information and to learn how to identify these plants, visit: wildsmart.ca
Do not use bird feeders of any kind during bear season (April 1 to Nov. 30). Outside of those months, we recommend suspending the bird feeder on a cable so that it can’t be reached by any other wildlife, and remember to clean the ground underneath.