We've had many people ask us why these bunnies need to be rescued when they appear to be thriving. The reality is that they are good at reproducing, so the population is surviving, but the individual rabbits are not thriving. Do you ever notice the abundance of young rabbits in Cannon Beach? This is likely due to the fact that the lifespan of rabbits left to live outside is drastically lower than it would be if they were properly protected, fed, and cared for. Domestic rabbits on average live up to 10 years, often even to 11-13 years. In the wild, they face many dangers and illnesses. The younger rabbits may be more susceptible to parasitic infestation and illness. Decades of inbreeding also can be detrimental to their immune systems and overall health. So why do the bunnies of Cannon Beach need to be rescued? There are many reasons! Click on each of the photos below to learn more about why rescuing is important!
Photo by Chelsea Lincoln
Okay let's jump into the reasons why the bunnies of Cannon Beach need to be rescued, starting with lack of proper nutrition! Domestic bunnies require unlimited access to hay or grass (ideally timothy hay). The hay not only provides essential nutrients, but allows the bunnies to wear down their molars, which are constantly growing. Molar overgrowth can cause teeth to poke the gums, causing discomfort, even preventing them from eating altogether. At Cannon Beach, there is a considerable amount of green grass, but there will be periods of time each year where the grass may be frozen or covered in snow. During those times, they have no access to the most important part of their diet! A proper balanced diet would also include fresh leafy greens and a small amount of nutritious pellets. In the wild, these bunnies have to scavenge for food and water sources. They often eat foods that are too rich like carrots & apples offered by tourists, along with whatever food they can find discarded on the ground or growing on local and potted plants. The bunnies deserve to be rescued so they can be given consistent, healthy food, to improve their overall health, and so they'll never need to be hungry and scavenge for food ever again.
Photos by: Chelsea Lincoln, Graphic on left by: Karen A.
Another reason life for the Cannon Beach bunnies is not so awesome is the danger of being injured or killed and eaten by predators. Some common predators living in and around Cannon Beach include bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, osprey, black bears, and raccoons. Though no one likes to talk about it, the bunnies are definitely falling prey to these hungry animals. One resident told a story of how they found a deceased rabbit in pieces under their house. They assumed the bunny had been eaten by a raccoon. We may not see a lot of dead bunnies in town because they are often snatched up and flown or carried into the forest to be eaten, but make no mistake, where there is a food source, predator will come to eat. You might be tempted to shrug this reality off as the circle of life, but remember, these bunnies are not wild. They were placed out in the wild; in danger, by humans. They deserve to live safe and cozy in homes where they will never need to hide from predators; to be safe from tearing teeth, beaks, claws, and talons.
Eagle Photo by Ken Smith, Raccoon Photo by Carolyn Hoard, Graphic created by Karen A.
Another danger of living in the wild, is the risk of being hit by a car. Rabbits are fast, but not always fast enough. In the summer, traffic increases as tourists flock to visit Cannon Beach. Bunnies can be seen hopping all around the parking lot at the Tolovana Recreation site. We all know people don't always drive as slowly as they ought to. A rabbit's miscalculation of timing combined with a driver not paying attention or driving too fast could result in catastrophic injury or gruesome death. Rescuing the bunnies gets them off the streets and into the safety of homes where they will not ever have to risk the terrifying danger of cars.
All pictures by Chelsea Lincoln, Graphic created by Karen A.