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Urban Rabbit Population Explodes

Urban rabbits are running out of room in southern Finland. An estimated 7,000 of these feral former pets live in Helsinki. They are now quickly spreading to Espoo and Vantaa in search of new territory to sustain their growing population.

Kani hangella.
Villiintyvät kanit saattavat olla pian riesa Kanta-Hämeessäkin. Image: Seppo Nykänen

Experts say the urban rabbit will begin making its way as far north as Tampere in the coming decades. The feral rabbits are currently starting to destroy vegetation in Turku.

Pet Rabbits Gone Wild

The havoc-wreaking urban rabbits are descendants of domestic rabbits that either escaped or were let loose by owners.

“The rabbit population surged near the Kyläsaari landfill in Helsinki in the 1970s. Female rabbits can have 20-30 offspring per year,” says Tapani Veistola of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

“The rabbits must be terminated before it’s too late. They overburden city parks,” says Arno Kasvi, head gardener at Turku University’s Botanical Gardens.

Warm Climate Encourages Breeding

With few natural predators in populated areas, the urban rabbit population is expected to continue to grow.

Warm winters during the past decade have helped create optimal conditions for rabbit nesting grounds. Mild weather conditions have culminated in an explosion in the urban rabbit population.

“Long and cold winters are the best means of controlling the population,” says Veistola.

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