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Cooking Rabbit Controversy

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Bait it in, pin it to the ground, grab it by its hind legs and whack the back of its head hard against the ground, killing it instantly, describes Lloyd in his article Cook Up A Pot of Rabbit Restoration Stew. Be discreet, he warns, some people don’t like the sight of a dead rabbit.

These are the words of Abe Lloyd, a mature University of Victoria student, published in Essence, a small Environmental Studies newsletter. Lloyd has written an extremely graphic description of how to hunt, kill and cook the abandoned rabbits that proliferate on the University of Victoria campus.

A newspaper on Vancouver Island – the Times Colonist –broke the story of the disturbing account of the University of Victoria student’s desire to live off the campus land.

The rabbits, numerous and ever multiplying, have long been a source of concern and controversy at the small university campus. Although Lloyd justified his contentious article as being a catalyst to raise awareness about the problem, in an interview with the Times Colonist, he also admits to killing and cooking a rabbit each month.

Frankly, Lloyd, a self-described wild foodie, seems, well, a bit unbalanced. Even though you may enjoy eating a wild diet or want to raise awareness about the problem of abandoned rabbits in an urban setting, there is something rather odd and even a bit frightening, at the thought of a grown man stalking, bashing in the heads and skinning extremely tame domesticated rabbits on a picturesque university campus and justifying his actions by saying he wants to foster discourse.

Wild rabbits are a food source for some people, but the fact is these are not wild animals in a wild setting; these are abandoned and often very tame Easter bunnies and unwanted family pets. Yet Lloyd views these animals as an untapped food source and encourages other students to view the rabbits in the same manner.

Animal rights activists and the local SPCA are up in arms that other students may now consider killing the rabbits for food.

The legality of Lloyd’s actions is ambiguous. The University of Victoria is situated on private property; the animals are an introduced species, not native to the province, nor classified as endangered and are therefore not protected by any laws. Because they slip, or unfortunately hop, through a few loopholes, people can legally kill the rabbits provided the animal is killed humanely. It is only illegal to destroy a wild rabbit when it is killed inhumanely.

Erika Paul, an Animal Protection Officer with the Victoria SPCA contacted the media when the Essence article was brought to her attention. She has some concerns, serious concerns, with Lloyd’s article.

“His instructions on how to kill, cannot guarantee an instant death or a humane kill,” she explains. “What if someone else does this, with no experience, and the rabbit is not dead and they start to skin it?”

Animal rights activists are asking a lot of questions. Why the loopholes in the Wildlife Act? Why the silence from the University? What is Lloyd’s killing skill level? Who decides what exactly is a humane death?

“If someone harms a rabbit and doesn’t kill it humanely, they run the risk of being charged,” explains Paul. “What Lloyd describes is not to our humane standards.”

Abe Lloyd's article has raised a number of valid concerns. Maybe not the ones he intended, but he has definitely got a debate going. However, the debate seems to be focusing on his strange actions and the loopholes in the Wildlife Act as opposed to what to do with the rabbits at the University of Victoria campus.

Perhaps the only thing that bothers me more than Lloyd’s odd behaviour is the fact the University of Victoria has issued no statement condemning his violent behaviour.


Read the Times Colonist article.
Read Abe Lloyd's article in the Essence newsletter.

Valerie Williams is a writer living on Salt Spring Island.


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