The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is concerned with a different kind of Easter bunny ahead of the upcoming long weekend.
In a recent news blast, the park board is imploring residents to keep their distance from Jericho Beach's fluffiest residents.
The wild rabbits that populate the grassy areas surrounding the beach near Point Grey are adorable and relatively tame but officials caution that they pose serious health risks to the public and other animals when handled.
People often try to feed the bunnies according to the park board, drawn in by their fluffy tails and twitching noses. These interactions end up creating a negative impact on the environment, says the park board in its release.
The feral fluffballs are actually considered an invasive species and the colony originated from domestic pets that were either purposefully released or escaped. Therefore, ahead of Easter season, the park board is concerned that bunnies will be gifted and then abandoned once the novelty has worn off.
"Invasive species can out-compete native species for food and space, damage ecosystems, disrupt food sources and introduce parasites and disease,"officials warn. "They are the second greatest threat to biodiversity following habitat loss."
You can get fined $500 for feeding the Jericho bunnies
Wildlife feeding is prohibited across all Vancouver parks and beaches for the safety of humans and animals. Getting too close to the bunnies can distress them and people run the risk of being bitten and scratched which can lead to parasites, ticks, or even Lyme disease.
Feeding is also unhealthy for rabbits and they tend to gather in feeding areas making them more vulnerable to predators. Plus food left out for rabbits can attract mice and rats and Vancouver already has an infestation problem.
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is reportedly working with wildlife experts, the BC SPCA, and the Invasive Species Council of BC, on long-term research and monitoring of rabbit populations and their impact on Vancouver park ecosystems.