Two young bunny detectives make it their mission to support Calgary's feral rabbit population

·2 min read
Two girls in Calgary have been watching and feeding the city's feral bunny population since first making it a hobby last summer. (James Young/CBC - image credit)
Two girls in Calgary have been watching and feeding the city's feral bunny population since first making it a hobby last summer. (James Young/CBC - image credit)

Two young girls in Calgary have made it their mission to learn more about Calgary's feral rabbit population and they quickly turned it into a hobby amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The girls' mother Carmen Wittmeier says the activity has become one of the few outings they can do this year and that it's been a "peaceful" way to spend the afternoon.

"I gradually began to see how much the community loves these rabbits," she said.

The girls' mother Carmen Wittmeier says the activity started out as a photography project.
The girls' mother Carmen Wittmeier says the activity started out as a photography project.(Lauren Godwaldt)

"There's people that are building houses for them and that come in regularly to feed them."

It started as a photography project for her daughters, Danica and Lauren, last summer, but has now turned into an all-season activity.

The girls say that the activity has been fun and they have learned a lot.
The girls say that the activity has been fun and they have learned a lot.(James Young/CBC)

However, she says one thing that she and her daughters have noticed the past few months is the bunny population declining during the colder months.

"Entire types of rabbits have disappeared and other rabbits have taken over … so genetically, it was an interesting experiment to just watch the population develop and certain breeds are clearly hardier than others."

Some of Calgary's feral rabbit population used to be pets.
Some of Calgary's feral rabbit population used to be pets.(James Young/CBC)

Her daughter Danica Godwaldt, 12, says she's learned a lot from watching the rabbits.

"The -40 C decreased the population by a lot. It was like you barely see them around anymore," she said.

Wittmeier says they aren't the only ones trying to look after the feral bunnies. In fact, she says there are many people who visit them daily.
Wittmeier says they aren't the only ones trying to look after the feral bunnies. In fact, she says there are many people who visit them daily. (James Young/CBC)

"Now it's a little warmer, so we're seeing babies out."

The girls say they have also learned how much of a problem it is for people to release their pet rabbits with the expectation that they will be able to survive.

"We really need to help them, because they keep reproducing and reproducing so quickly. So we need to find adoption homes or spay and neuter," said Lauren Godwaldt, who is eight.