11/20/2012 02:30 EST | Updated 02/07/2013 07:48 EST

Canmore Rabbits Being Killed Find Sanctuary, Rescue Group Helps
CANMORE, Alta. - Animal rescuers have found sanctuary for some feral rabbits being killed in an Alberta mountain town but the group says it's unlikely that all the bunnies can be saved.

The community of Canmore recently started trapping and killing the long-eared lopers to curb their out-of-control population.

Susan Vickery with the Earth Animal Rescue Society says a couple with a farm northwest of Calgary is willing to take in as many as 50 rabbits.

"They've had a lot of dealings with rabbits themselves over the years," Vickery said Tuesday. "They enjoy them. They know their nature.

"And they respect their right to live."

The B.C.-based group helped avoid a mass extermination of Canmore's rabbits last year when it found refuge homes for 213.

But their numbers have continued to grow and last month the town started getting rid of them.

Town spokeswoman Sally Caudill said she doesn't know how many have been killed so far. But she emphasized they are being humanely destroyed.

She said the town will probably accept the latest offer to send some rabbits to the couple's farm and is willing to work with anyone who wants to take them.

But even if there are more offers, the rabbit population is so big the town must continue with its pest control plan, Caudill said.

"We'll work with any sanctuary that comes forward. Then we'll continue on with the program," she said.

"Our program has not changed at all and it will not change."

The rabbits, originally pets, were set free in the 1990s and their numbers exploded. Past estimates have suggested there was one rabbit for every six people in the community of 12,000.

The Banff-area town, 100 kilometres west of Calgary, has argued the rabbits attract hungry cougars and coyotes to the area.

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