Bunny wars

The Wall Street Journal reports that some bunny wars are being waged at one Los Angeles college. Administrators are threatening the colonies of more than 300 rabbits thriving at Long Beach City College with measures as serious as neutering.

They’re not sure exactly where all the rabbits came from, but they’re speculating that the colony may be fueled by locals who abandon pet rabbits there, especially in the days and weeks following Easter. Campus police are now enforcing a $500 fine on locals for bunny-dumping.

On a recent day outside the library, students were gathered in small cliques around the grassy quad. So were dozens of bunnies. Most of the rabbits sat under the shade of a giant juniper tree. Others dug frantically and chased each other in circles.

“Now why—why are they doing that?” asks Mr. Wootton, the facilities manager, as he watched two black rabbits scratching at the roots of a plant. He recalls one evening when he was called to campus to handle a blackout and found himself alone, surrounded by hundreds of rabbits. “It was eerie,” he says.

Evidently, sympathy for the enemy won’t solve anyone’s problems:

“Rabbits are extremely territorial. They beat each other up and kill each other,” says Jacque Olson, a college employee who is part of the effort to control the bunny population. “When a rabbit is abandoned it’s absolutely terrified. They hop right up in your lap and want you to save them and take them home.”

Over the years, Ms. Olson did take many home. At one time, she had 50 campus bunnies in her back yard. She recently had to give them away when she moved to a small apartment that doesn’t allow pets.

Ms. Olson, and a coworker, Physical Education Associate Prof. Donna Prindle, felt the time had come to confront the bunny problem once and for all. Ms. Prindle approached school officials, who agreed to a sterilization plan.

And where previous offensives have failed, Ms. Olson now hopes to achieve a victory over the cute critters:

A few years ago, Ms. Olson rounded up 100 rabbits on the south side of campus, and found other homes for them. Only two rabbits on that part of campus evaded her. “Unfortunately, one was male and one was female,” she said. Within six months, the population on that side of campus had climbed back to 100 rabbits, she said.

But Ms. Olson and Ms. Prindle have reinforcements. Last month, volunteers helped them catch 100 rabbits to be neutered. The surgeries were done in two days by a team of veterinarians from nearby Western University of Health Sciences. Future round-ups are planned.

Ms. Olson and Ms. Prindle tend to the recovering rabbits in what used to be the school’s carpentry department. One corner of the rabbit recovery room serves as a makeshift maternity ward—some of the caught rabbits were already pregnant. The babies may be given up for adoption or sent to a sanctuary.

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