A cyclist who was hospitalised after he struck a rabbit, prompting him to call upon the City of Reykjavík to “stand up and do something” about the town’s rabbits, should have just been watching where he was going, says the chairperson of the Animal Protection Association of Iceland.
As reported, Hlöðver Bernharður Jökulsson collapsed a lung, broke a few ribs and badly injured his shoulder when, by his account, he collided with a rabbit in the Elliðaárdal area of Reykjavík last Friday. He has since called upon city authorities to take action regarding the rabbits, which are not native to Iceland but are the descendants of pet rabbits released into the wild some years ago.
Hallgerður Hauksdóttir, the chairperson of the Animal Protection Association of Iceland, told Vísir that the cyclist alone bears responsibility for this accident, and should just have been more careful.
“Living things always have the right of way,” Hallgerður said. “Cars, bikes and other vehicles are considered a part of the person controlling them – the driver needs to be careful. I will never buy it that a rabbit was in his way. The cyclist needs to watch out, especially when it is known that such animals are in the area. Just like on the national highway, we need to watch out for sheep in the road. It’s the same thing.”
Iceland’s current rabbit population descends, for the most part, from pet rabbits which were released in the Elliðaárdal area of Reykjavík in 2010. In 2011, rabbits bounded onto a Reykjavík highway, causing a three-car pile up. By 2012, rabbits were plaguing farms in south Iceland, as they burrowed into hay bales intended for animal feed, leaving waste inside them. In 2013, Reykjavík made the decision to look into what options were available to deal with the rabbit issue.
For now, feral rabbits continue to dominate Elliðaárdal, surviving due to milder winters and thriving without impedance the rest of the year. Those biking in the area are advised to watch their speed and keep their eyes peeled.
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