City officials say complaints about rabbits are up as population continues to increase and acclimate to suburban life


AURORA | The rabbits that make their home in the Chateaux at Aurora Park subdivision are safe for now.

Residents of the neighborhood near East Iliff Avenue and South Peoria Street raised concerns last month that the homeowners association board was moving forward with a plan to eradicate the fluffy rodents.

Rabbits are running rampid Oct. 8 at Chateaux of Aurora Park. Neighborhood leaders in Chateaux have backed off a plan to “exterminate” rabbits there after Jene Nelson and others criticized the plan. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

But now — after pressure from some animal welfare advocates, concerned neighbors and the attention of local media —  neighbors and officials say their plan to get rid of the rabbits is on hold.

Arnee Halcromb-Oliver, president of the HOA board, said there is no plan in the works now to do anything with the rabbits.

Beyond that, Halcromb-Oliver declined to comment on the rabbit issue before the board has a chance to discuss it further at a meeting later this month.

“After we discuss it, we will have comment on it,” she said. Jene Nelson, a neighborhood resident who raised concerns about the planned rabbit removal, said she was glad to hear the plan was at least on hold and glad she voiced her concerns.

“I felt like I would be remiss not to speak up on this one,” she said.

Nelson said the issue started last month when residents received a letter about a planned rabbit removal program scheduled to start in early October.

The letter was vague about what would happen to the rabbits, but Nelson said that after she did some checking it was clear the rabbits would be killed.

Rabbits are a common sight in the neighborhood, bounding between homes and hiding out under patios when people or cars pass by.

Some apparently thought the four-legged critters were a nuisance and wanted the population culled.

Nelson said that while the rabbits are plentiful, they are hardly a nuisance.

“I find ’em very fun to watch,” she said.

Other than some rabbit droppings under her deck and some rabbits who dined on her day lilies, Nelson said she doesn’t have a problem with the animals.

“They aren’t even pests. You approach one and they run away,” she said as she walked her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on Monday.

The neighborhood isn’t the only one in Aurora where there seem to be more rabbits than in previous years.

Cheryl Conway, a spokeswoman for Aurora Animal Control, said dispatchers noticed an uptick in rabbit-related complaints this year, especially in the spring.

The bulk of the complaints were that rabbits were destroying gardens, she said.

City officials recommend residents who don’t like the rabbits surround their gardens with a fine-mesh wire so the rabbits can’t get in. Spraying predator urine around the garden also helps ward off rabbits, Conway said, but it can wash away in rainstorms.

In some cases, city officials will recommend residents contact a pest control service to get rid of the animals. But Conway said that can be expensive and isn’t particularly effective because other rabbits or a different species will likely move in once the rabbits are gone.

“Nature doesn’t like a void,” she said. “If you trap a population out, that leaves the habitat and food supply for other animals to move in.”

Rabbits can be hunted in Colorado, but only during certain seasons.

But Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, said they can also be killed if they are a nuisance.

“Private property owners have the right to kill rabbits that are causing damage under state law,” she said.

Churchill also said it is illegal to interfere with lawful trapping activities.

Nelson said that if the rabbits were hurting people and causing serious problems, she could understand the need to do something about them, but that hasn’t been the case.

“I think there is a way to live in harmony,” she said. “I don’t think you have to take a radical approach.”