CANMORE, Alta. - An Alberta town's plan to eliminate up to 2,000 feral rabbits has some people hopping mad.

Canmore has hired a contractor to trap the bunnies and will then have them gassed if an animal welfare group won't agree to sterilize and relocate them.

Kyndra Biggy of the group Save Canmore Bunnies says it will be very difficult to raise enough money to save the rabbits before the traps are set later this month.

"I am definitely disappointed with the decision," Biggy said Wednesday.

"I don't know how anybody can justify killing being the answer, especially when there are other options out there. They all have little personalities. Their lives are just as important as anything else."

The town says the former domestic pets and their offspring are breeding like rabbits and damaging property.

There is also fear the mammals will attract predators such as coyotes and cougars to the community near the gates of Banff National Park.

A firm of professional trappers called Animal Damage Control has been awarded the contract, which is to run from mid-November to March.

Company president Bill Abercrombie said rabbits can also transmit diseases if they gather in large numbers.

Abercrombie said his staff will follow the town's directions about what to do with the rabbits that are caught. His company hopes to stay clear of any controversy.

"The last thing that we need in the town site is an outbreak of hepatitis or tularemia or some similar disease," he said.

"If this was skunks, no one would care. It is because it is cute cuddly bunnies that there is a big kerfuffle over it."

The president of the Humane Society of Canada wrote a letter Sept. 19 urging the town not to kill the rabbits. Michael O'Sullivan warned that wouldn't work because any survivors would just breed more bunnies.

"The matter of the Canmore rabbits is not one of public health or safety; instead, it is one of politics," he wrote.

"Like all political solutions applied to challenges facing interactions between animals and people, they result in a miserable failure because they are intended to solve a political problem and not an animal welfare issue."

Canmore Mayor Ron Casey was not available for comment.

The town issued a statement Wednesday that said managing the feral rabbits is similar to keeping bears out of the community by controlling garbage.

Council says it will consider releasing trapped rabbits alive.

"If a non-profit society for spay-neutering and permanent relocation to an appropriate sanctuary comes forward at any time, the contractor will, upon town approval, release trapped rabbits to the group."

Earlier this year, the University of Victoria dealt with hundreds of feral rabbits destroying fields and property. Most of the vagrants were trapped and relocated to bunny-friendly sanctuaries, but others were killed.

Biggy said Save Canmore Bunnies has lined up some veterinarians who are willing to sterilize rabbits at cost, but they need more time to get organized.

"Two weeks to gather funds and land is not sufficient. I really hope people will step up for this."