Wild rabbits of Jericho Beach: The hares are still there (Photo set)

Let's hang out with some beautiful beach bunnies. Learn more about their place in Vancouver.

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Robert Mitchum's knuckles: 'Night of the Hunter'
Reverend Harry Powell's knuckles: 'Night of the Hunter'

Wherever you fall on the Bunny Love Spectrum, you must concede that a beach makes a better destination than a Richmond car dealership. Ditching your pet rabbit in the middle of a city marks it for death.

As part of the consultation process for the wharf demolition, several conservation groups suggested signange  discouraging visitors from feeding the rabbits. If they’re gonna make a go of living in the wild, it’s better for all of us to leave them to it.

Sometimes the best way to help is to stay out of the way, but that’s what Blyth says the City has done. “Yeah, I mean, we’re bunny lovers. Who wouldn’t love a bunny?”

Bunny love
Who, indeed?

Lapin it up

Just because you cannot see the Jericho Beach rabbits, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Beach Bunnies are virtually invisible when hiding in the bushes, and you scare them away as you crash up the dirt paths in search of that magic rabbit photo moment. However, you should not feed the Jericho Beach rabbits to entice them closer to the camera. Blyth said, “You don’t want the bunnies to become too much of a problem, you don’t want them to overpopulate the area. But they’re not a problem down there.”

Zen and the art of rabbit photography

Getting proper rabbit photos is an exercise in patience. You must be willing to sit still for long periods of time, and get your camera really close to the ground. How badly do you want that shot? I ask because the perfect shot requires you to sit or lie in rabbit poop. Also, rabbits have been known to... how do I put this delicately... spray each other with piss, and, by extension, any photographer who gets too close. Male rabbits do this to mark territory and ward off competitors as they seek mates.

Hey, this is Jericho Beach; did you think there wouldn't be water sports?

You gonna eat that?

                                        Dude, that's gross.

You must also be silent, and I mean perfectly silent. Ninja Mode. If rabbits had index fingers, they’d shush you. If they could have jobs, they’d be old-school librarians. You’ll wait ten minutes for a rabbit to turn and face you, only to have the moment ruined by a jogger with too-heavy feet clomping along the gravel path. Learn to let go of your anger.

After the first hour of rabbit photography, you’ll notice something strange. The rabbits stop looking like rabbits, and start looking like other things. Donkeys. Pokemon. Hayao Miyazaki creatures.

My Neighbor Leporidae

My Neighbor Leporidae

You stop seeing your subject as the idea of a rabbit, and start seeing it as the animal itself. You feel it breathing, you sense the inherent nervousness of a critter so low on the food chain.

Shots like this, taken with a fixed 50mm lens, require extra patience, since rabbits aren't cool with your sneaking up quickly behind them. Take one step at a time. I spent several minutes creeping maybe ten feet to capture this image. Joggers kept crunching by, and the lil' guy kept moving forward.

Rabbit butt

Rabbit butt.

It’s hard out there for a hare

At Jericho Beach, the hills have eyes of all kinds. Says Blyth, “The birds, all kinds of birds, will just come and land on you. They just love people. We thought they were attacking us.” There are also quite a few coyotes out there. Eagles, raccoons, and owls, too. All of these like to chow on rabbit from time to time: it’s part and parcel of living in the wild.

The rabbits of Jericho Beach are fluffy, fuzzy, dare I say cuddly. But don't pick the rabbits up, nor should you feed them. The City kept a hands-off policy, as should we. Gooch adds, "Volunteers continue to monitor the rabbits and we have picked up injured or compromised ones. A continuing problem is people who let their dogs run off-leash in violation of the bylaw."

Blyth summed it up nicely: “We want to just keep our furry little creatures living a decent life down there by the beach. There are worse places to live.”

The grass is always greener...
The grass is always greener...

Share this story, as well as the slideshow below, with the rabbit lover in your life.

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