One of the Urban Wildlife Institute’s main goals is find non-lethal solutions to conflicts between animals and people in urban settings. A conflict that currently affects the zoo is substantial damage caused to vegetation by rabbits. Our resulting objective is to form a cost-effective and non-lethal rabbit management plan.
We began by estimating the baseline population size of rabbits. This was done by humanely capturing rabbits, equipping them with ear tags and then using the observed ratio of tagged to untagged animals to extrapolate the population size. This method, called mark and resight, led us to conclude that approximately 179 adult rabbits occupy the main part of zoo grounds.
Future steps to management the conflict will include vegetative damage surveys, repellent and physical barrier (fence) testing, and a cost-benefit analysis. Our results may serve as a model for other institutions that seek non-lethal solutions to similar herbivore challenges.