Mission Viejo, CA — It will be a happy Easter for cottontail bunnies at a Mission Viejo community, thanks to the dismissal of a lawsuit that sought authority to shoot them with high-powered pellet guns. Last February, the Casta del Sol Homeowners Association got permission from the Mission Viejo City Council to shoot rabbits eating ornamental shrubbery on the property.
Several of the residents objected and notified Casta del Sol that its planned actions were not only cruel and unnecessary, but also, they believed, unlawful. Casta del Sol responded by filing a lawsuit, naming the residents as defendants and seeking a court order permitting the shooting of the bunnies. This week, Casta del Sol dismissed the lawsuit, clearing the way for a safe and compassionate Easter for the bunnies.
“We have been fighting for a compassionate — and lawful — resolution to this issue for more than a year,” says Nicole Paquette, General Counsel for the Animal Protection Institute (API). “Shooting bunnies is neither compassionate nor effective as a means of population control. We hope the laws of the state will now prompt Orange County homeowner’s associations to stop trying to find new ways to kill bunnies and instead look to non-lethal solutions to address the situation in a humane and effective manner.”
Rabbits are attracted to human dwellings for two reasons — food and shelter. A series of non-lethal solutions can be used to avoid damage to ornamental shrubbery caused by cottontail rabbits. Non-lethal remedies can be as simple as putting up a well-constructed fence, landscaping with plants unappetizing to bunnies, using natural spray repellents that rabbits find distasteful, or employing scare devices.
“While these non-lethal solutions will likely reduce but not entirely eliminate the problems, the same is true of lethal methods to reduce damage,” says Paquette. “Simply altering human behavior and planting plants and shrubs that do not attract rabbits will go a long way in eliminating future damage caused by these benevolent animals.”
API’s Nicole Paquette was one of the counsels of record for the residents sued by Casta de Sol. API has worked to stop the lethal control of rabbits since 2000. API is a national nonprofit animal advocacy organization working to end animal cruelty and exploitation through legislation, litigation and public education. For more information, visit www.api4animals.org.
Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-447-3085 x205