Virginia Game Department Considering a Rabbit Ban

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by barnbilder, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    I have recently become aware of a situation, have been following it vicariously on a facebook rabbit group, but with much interest. This is of concern to any rabbit breeders in the state, and possibly other states.

    First, let me say, our game department here does not have the most stellar history, and between past debacles and continued low pay, they don't attract the best candidates. They aren't the friendly, nice, hard working game wardens of old, that were always ready to engage and educate, WHILE protecting wildlife resources. More like robo-cop, at best, and in other cases, leaning toward henchmen for third world leaders. After the scandal where some of the head guys thought it would be a good idea to take an African Safari on the public dime, they have had a serious image problem.


    So the incident, as best as I can determine, stemmed from an individual that attempted to import wild European rabbits into the state. He was denied, (as he probably should be) and when he asked upon what grounds, he was cited some administrative code. The code pretty much gives the game agency the discretion to deny entry or require a permit for many animals, listed by taxonomical name. Included in this list is the wild European rabbit, whose taxonomical name Oryctolagus cuniculus, happens to be the same as our domestic rabbits. Making perfect sense, as it is the ancestor of domestic rabbits.

    The person wanting to bring in wild europeans, brought this to the involved officers attention, stating that there are all kinds of people, that in fact, possess oryctolagus cuniculus, in this state. The warden asked for a list of these people and the person obliged, (foolishly, if you ask me). On this list was a person of which I am acquainted, in a roundabout way, but I have become more acquainted as this story has unfolded.

    The warden, sent a letter to this rabbit owner, and told her she would need to either euthanize or sell her rabbits to a state where rabbits were "legal". She was obviously taken aback and quite upset. Thank goodness she began consulting other rabbit breeders in the state, when he called back to check on her progress in following his "orders" she informed him of the administrative code section he missed, preceding the one he cited, that exempts domestic rabbits from the list of exotics and non natives.

    At this point, he sounds like he got a little snotty with her, and he informed her that they are having a meeting next week amending parts of administrative code, and he is going to see to it, that her rabbits will be outlawed at that time. (effective in June) After some checking, (I have seen copies of the letter he sent, and recognize his name as a high ranking LEO with the department) he is not bluffing, he is a member of the group that makes those changes. According to the department website, rabbits are not slated to be discussed, although there are some clarifications slated to be made to the very same list, regarding red fox used as pets or in fur farms.


    I get the impression, given my knowledge of our game officials and their propensity to not be the most upright of people, that this guy is basically just being a jerk, throwing around his authority, and lack of taxonomical understanding, and crushing all who wish to defy him. I will admit, I do not know the entire story, there might be more involved to this story. She might have told the guy he couldn't deer hunt on her property or come visit while her husband was at work, and the way these guys roll, that would make an enemy. I think the more likely situation, is that the guy is clueless, and now he is ticked off that someone would question his authority. He honestly must not be aware of how many people have rabbits. Sounds like a prime candidate for a Walmart security guard to me.

    ARBA has been notified, and the person who talked to them indicated that they were aware of our states zeal to prevent the next Australian rabbit plague, (not likely, the predator loads I see, you are lucky to raise them IN cages). They are prepared with a team of lawyers, in case things come to that. I will keep an eye on the proposed meeting agendas, and follow this stuff and post any new information here.

    Seriously though, after waiting to see what comes of this, I really hope that this person follows the advice given to make this guy super famous. With all of the potential violations out there, why go all Elmer Fudd? What a joke.
     
  2. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is tough sometimes protecting the environment from fools like that when the statutes are either antiquated or just poorly written.

    In Michigan, some fools imported wild boars to hunting preserves. Interesting name, since it isn't really hunting and they aren't preserving anything. Hogs got loose. People brought Wild Boar to Michigan to breed and sell to hunting preserves. The hogs got loose. Loose hogs damage lawns, forests, crops and waterways.

    The State banned the importation of Wild Boars and gave everyone a year to finish growing what they had, hold the hunts and be done. But since many southern wild boars are all sorts of colors and shapes, the banned hog description fit just about anything. Most Michiganders wanted rid of these hogs, those that resisted were allowed to because the law was so poorly written.

    In Michigan, breeding wolves or Wolf-dog hybrids has been illegal for 15 years. Reasonable to believe anyone owning a Wolf or Wolf-dog now has it illegally. So, someone imports a dog from Europe that the translated name is Wolf. But in the US, that name is a recognized dog breed. DNA says it is a Wolf. The law allows recognized dog breeds. Most people don't want Wolves or wolf-dogs in their neighborhoods, but the law doesn't cover this exception.

    Somehow, common sense is lost and we end up with environmental damage, foreign animal diseases just because there was a way to get around the law and bring in Wild Boar, Wolf-dog crosses and now Wild European rabbits.

    Everyone that got snitched on needs to pay a visit to the snitch for a bit of a blanket party.
     

  3. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    I think you are missing the fact that we aren't talking about wild European rabbits here, we are talking about domestic rabbits. Also, that a lunatic game warden doesn't realize that people have owned domestic rabbits here for a very long time, as agricultural livestock and pets. I'm sure the lady's fancy breed long haired show rabbits are going to rate right up there with feral hogs, in terms of destruction. But only for about two minutes, when the first hawk passes over. That is, if they get out of their cages.

    I am aware of the Baker case, where a pig farmer was harassed by Michigan game wardens, but that is not the topic of discussion here. Might go start a thread on the hog forum.
     
  4. haypoint

    haypoint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I guess I didn't make my point clear. Sounds like the game warden is attempting to prohibit the European rabbits, but the law is written too broadly. So, he's going after all rabbits. I'm not saying that he's right in what he's apparently trying to do. But if his intent is to protect the local environment, he may be grasping at straws. Can't blame him for trying. Would be interesting to hear the other half of the story.

    I have no idea what European Hares or whatever would do to your local ecosystem. Rabbits didn't work out well for Australia.
     
  5. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    I've actually known several people through the years that have stocked San Juan rabbits to train their rabbit beagles, in many states. This breed descends from feral stock on San Juan Island, where they made an Australia like rabbit desert. They are very close to a wild European rabbit. They NEVER survive. What you have to have, in order to have an epidemic infestation, is an almost complete lack of predators, either through Geographic Isolation (San Juan), or through a massive poisoning program (Australia).

    If San Juans never survive, this particular lady's Angoras are probably not going to do well. Stock some Silkie chickens in the wild, and see how they do.

    If game departments want to use taxonomic names as parameters, they need to seriously crack down on the meleagris galapovo industry. Maybe they should try using some common sense, but that is sorely lacking in this department. After the corruption scandals went through, it seems that anyone decent left the agency, or became very reserved during their last push to retirement. New people consist, it seems, of people who probably couldn't work anywhere else.

    This guy probably has a chip on his shoulder, something to prove, and a work ethic that pushes him toward low hanging fruit. This is what happens when you give someone cut out to be a mall cop lots of power.
     
  6. Lookin4GoodLife

    Lookin4GoodLife Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like politicians need to be involved, or at least someone over this guy's head.