VANCOUVER -- The cull of feral rabbits at Vancouver International Airport is on hold after community members contacted airport officials to suggest "different options," the airport said in a statement Wednesday.

The announcement comes one day after CTV News Vancouver reported that a contractor had been hired to shoot the rabbits, in a cull that began a few weeks ago. 

Notices were sent out advising staff of the work, but airport employees told CTV News they didn't know the culling was already taking place, until a worker arrived for a night shift and was frightened when she saw a man in the parking lot with a rifle.

In its statement Wednesday, YVR stressed that the feral rabbits attract predators, which poses "a significant and immediate risk to airfield safety."

They are also an invasive species, the airport said, adding that the rabbits' population grew considerably as airport traffic slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We undertook culling activities to manage the population and associated risks," YVR said in its statement. "This is considered the most humane, safe and efficient method, and was used as a last resort at the time. Safety protocols were followed and posed no risk to operations, employees or passersby."

The airport says it will now "re-evaluate" the methods available for controlling the rabbit population and look for "alternative solutions."

"Thank you to those who offered perspective and solutions," the airport said. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's St. John Alexander