A First Nation near Regina is calling on the city to relocate rabbits caught in live traps.

The City of Regina recently announced plans to reduce the wild rabbit population through traps. Depending on numbers, the city said it would either relocate the rabbits or euthanize them.

The city suspended the program after some residents tampered with the traps.

Meanwhile, Pasqua First Nation Chief Matthew Peigan said the rabbits would be welcome in the Qu’Appelle Valley.

“When I heard the news about the rabbits in Regina and them catching them and then killing them, why should they do that?” Peigan said. “If they want to catch them, they should come to one of the first nations, through a request, and release them into the wild."

When Peigan was growing up, him and his brothers would hunt rabbits in the bush.

"If we got hungry out in the bush we would skin a rabbit and we would make a fire and cook a rabbit right there and eat it," he said.

In the last 13 years, the rabbit population has significantly declined on Pasqua First Nation because of wild fires and the large coyote population. Peigan says he wishes young kids aren’t able to hunt rabbits anymore, since hunting as a boy taught him a lot about caring for nature

“Today we take that for granted,” Peigan said. “We don’t say thank you to Mother Earth, we don’t say thank you to the animals that provide for us for our livelihoods and our existence, and we don’t say that anymore."

The city says the large rabbit population is damaging trees by eating the bark.

Ward 8 councillor Mike O’Donnell says the rabbit population in his area has escalated over the past few years, damaging vegetation. He added he’d like to see the city relocate the rabbits.

"If we have an opportunity to partner with someone in southern Saskatchewan who has room, and they can live freely why not give that a try?" O’Donnell said.

Prairie Meats in Saskatoon sells rabbit meat. Butcher Gene Dupuis says his shop gets rabbit meat from Eastern Canada. While he says rabbit isn’t a popular meat, he’s willing to try using Saskatchewan rabbits.

"If you were in a blind taste test to eat poultry or Saskatchewan raised chicken and or rabbit you probably could not tell the difference," he said.

Peigan is hopeful the city will be willing to relocate some of its rabbits to the Qu’Appelle Valley so he can hunt and cook them once again.

The city declined to comment.