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rabbit relocation

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From: mike wilson
Rochelle, IL
I would like to use a live trap and relocate the rabbits around my yard that have destroyed most of my bushes this year. I would like to know if I can legally do this and is a permit required?

Extension Message
From: Laura Kammin
Visiting Extension Specialist, Pollution Prevention
Extension-Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
My holly bushes suffered the same fate this winter. Have you tried fencing around the bushes? It isn't particularly attractive, but it is effective. My young dogwood tree, which was fenced, survived unscathed by the rabbits.

There is a permit (it is free) that you would need from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to trap and relocate the rabbits. You will need to call your local IDNR wildlife biologist. (You can find the contact ).

Relocating the rabbits is likely to pose a challenge. Legally you need the written permission of the landowner of the property where you plan to release the rabbits. It is not legal to take them to state parks, natural areas, parks, etc. The other thing to keep in mind is that once you remove this set of rabbits, new ones will continuously move in to your yard. It can be less expensive (and less aggravating) over the long-term to use exclusion methods such as fencing and putting in plants that tend to be less appetizing to rabbits than it is to constantly trap and relocate (or euthanize) the rabbits.

One more thing to consider. We had an extremely cold winter with lots of snow cover. Under those conditions, the rabbits are forced to eat shrubs and small trees in order to survive. Now that it is warming up and new growth will soon be appearing, there will be much less pressure on your bushes. Hopefully the bushes survived their unwelcome winter pruning and will regrow well this season. If you have more questions, please let me know.

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