Pioneer Canal Park, or Bunny Park as it’s known in Boynton Beach, has been hopping with rabbits for years, but the situation isn’t as sweet as it seems, especially because neighbors say people are killing them.
“I’m tired of seeing them get hurt," said Jana Sandler. "Almost every day, I find a dead bunny.”
Sandler said the dozens of bunnies are prized members of the neighborhood.
“We come outside. We feed them every morning and we have our coffee with them," she said.
When neighbors recently started finding dead rabbits, they contacted East Coast Rabbit Rescue, who has been rounding up the bunnies the last two weeks.
“We want the neighborhood to understand that what we’re doing is helping the bunnies and saving their lives basically," said Luz Pereira.
The bunnies people find in the bushes, in backyards and underneath homes around Pioneer Canal Park are not wild rabbits. They're domesticated rabbits that are meant to live as pets, so they don't survive well in the wild.
Pereira suspects people dropped off their Easter presents or pet bunnies years ago and the situation grew.
"This would definitely be the biggest mission that we have undertaken," she said.
Pereira said while the rabbits may look cute and appear healthy from afar, just about all of the ones they’ve trapped and rescued so far are sick or injured, infested with fleas or ticks, suffering from anemia and malnutrition and would be at risk of death if they hadn’t been saved. She suspects the bunnies at the park are living for a year or less. They can live up to ten years or longer as pets.
“They’re covered in bite wounds," she said. "They’re covered in abscesses. They have fleas, ticks, they have everything.”
East Coast Rabbit Rescue has taken in 35 rabbits so far. They are treating them to get them ready for fostering and adoption.
The rescue expects the process to fully capture all of the rabbits at Pioneer Canal Park to take months because the ones that haven't been trapped yet are continuing to multiply.
“Everyone is sorry to see them go, most of all me. I love them more than my life. But I love them to save them," Sandler said.