• Outdoors Outdoors

Florida town faces tough dilemma after being overrun by rabbits: '[It] is of the utmost importance to the city'

"I don't think it's a simple solution."

Wilton Manors finding new homes for domesticated rabbits

Photo Credit: iStock

After a former resident left behind a pair of pet rabbits, a Florida city is working together to find new homes for a growing population of bunnies. 

In just a few years, the abandoned pair of domesticated rabbits turned Wilton Manors, near Fort Lauderdale, into the home of an estimated 75 rabbits, according to The New York Times. Residents are seeking solutions to save them with the help of city officials and local organizations.

The small community of Jenada Isles is surrounded by canals that have kept the rabbit population confined to a small space. While often delighted by the adorable creatures, residents are concerned about the growing bunny population. 

The furry neighbors dash across streets in front of cars and bicycles, chew wires, and gnaw on gardens. Known for their rapid reproduction, rabbits average four litters each year, with up to 12 babies per litter. 

As domesticated animals, the bunnies face threats from predators and are ill-prepared for the Florida heat, with many falling sick or in pain from ear mites. "They're not wild animals," says Dylan Warfel of a local rescue, "They shouldn't be outside in the first place." 

Residents hope to find a humane solution to the growing problem. However, time is not on their side as they wait for funding and assistance from local organizations. "The longer we wait, the more there are," one city leader warned.

The rabbits have been a topic of discussion at city meetings for months. While trapping was suggested, there is still the question of where the rabbits would go once caught. 

Commissioner Chris Caputo said, "Either we need to find homes for them ourselves or they're going to be euthanized." Horrified by the idea of dozens of bunnies being killed, community members like Alicia Griggs started raising funds and coordinating with local rescues to find safe homes for the rabbits.

While trapping and killing the rabbits may be the easiest option, the Jenada Isles community won't stand for it. 

"The safety of this rabbit population is of the utmost importance to the city," said Chief of Police Gary Blocker. The city continues to work to find funding and fosters as they move to re-home the bunny population.

"I don't think it's a simple solution," one resident said, noting the community is united in finding a solution that keeps the animals safe. "Nobody wants the bunnies harmed."

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