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Rescue group collaborating with police to round up rabbits at local park

The grounds around Sylvan Oaks Library in Citrus Heights have long-been a favorite spot for rabbits. // CH Sentinel

By Sara Beth Williams–
In an update to the City Council last month, police and a local animal rescue group said significant progress has been made in rescuing domesticated rabbits illegally abandoned at Crosswoods Community Park, near Sylvan Oaks Library.

Over the past two years, several animal rights advocates and shelter volunteers have raised concerns to both the Citrus Heights City Council and local news organizations about the overabundance of domesticated rabbits at Crosswoods Community Park, prompting the Citrus Heights Police Department to collaborate with multiple local and county agencies to find solutions.

According to research from Only Sunshine Animal Sanctuary and local police, who presented jointly to city leaders at a July 27 City Council meeting, domesticated rabbits have bred with an existing wild rabbit population at the park, located next to Sylvan Oaks Library. The animal sanctuary has major health concerns regarding domesticated rabbits being dumped in the wild, as the rabbits are not equipped to live in the wild and escape predators, nor to endure extreme weather elements, and are more susceptible to disease. Local news reports also showed that the rabbits have caused damage by burrowing beneath the foundations of buildings.

Police Services Manager Tiffany Campbell said months of open conversation and collaboration among multiple organizations impacted by the overpopulation of rabbits at Crosswoods resulted in several goals being developed, with measures taken to educate the public and manage the population of rabbits at the park.

“Through this process what we learned is that everyone has the same goal which is to have a higher quality of life for our animals,” Campbell said, adding that animal advocates are not there to interfere with wildlife, but only wish to rescue abandoned pet rabbits.

Goals shared during the council meeting included: educating the public about the differences between domestic rabbits and wild rabbits, setting pre-scheduled days for rescue groups to capture abandoned domesticated rabbits, and having rescued rabbits treated for injuries and illness, spayed, neutered, and adopted out to families.

“In two years we’ve rescued over a hundred rabbits, primarily from Crosswoods Community Park,” sanctuary founder Kristy Venrick-Mardon told the council. “Right now, the current population is down to six… that is it.”

Campbell said she was proud of the collaborative effort, adding that she was “extremely thankful” for all the partnerships that have formed in order to help find solutions and offer support to the immediate community surrounding the local park.

CHPD is asking that the public be aware and report any illegal abandonment of pet rabbits in the park. Campell said the Placer County Animal Services Shelter has also offered to spay and neuter up to 20 rescued rabbits at no cost.

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