If you can’t find the Easter Bunny this year, you are apt to locate him on the Liberal Arts campus at Long Beach City College in sunny California. The school has become a breeding ground for abandoned rabbits and Easter bunnies from previous years.
Long Beach City College has more than 300 rabbits romping around its campus. School officials say it all started with a few jackrabbits that migrated after their home was disturbed by a new airport. That paved the way for pet owners to drop off their unwanted rabbits and before long the campus was teeming with bunnies and their offspring.
Now the rabbits are literally taking over the college grounds and creating a dangerous situation. “The rabbits dig holes throughout the campus, which create trip-and-fall hazards for students and staff and destroy thousands of dollars of landscaping,” said Mark Thissell, LBCC’s Facilities Director.
And according to a member of the school’s Rabbit Population Management Task Force, the bunnies are more than an annoyance. It is actually becoming a risky place for the rabbits to live. There isn’t enough land and the territorial bunnies are starting to have bloody “turf wars” with each other.
So LBCC has started a humane trap-neuter-release program to capture the rabbits and reclaim control over their school again. Jacque Olson, a LBCC employee who has been feeding and caring for the rabbits for more than a decade is leading the effort.
Olson and her friend Donna Prindle have rounded up 100 rabbits in the past week. The animals were taken to Western University of Health Sciences where a veterinarian spayed and neutered them and they were examined and treated for signs of disease. The first group was infested with fleas and mites.
The fixed rabbits received a small tattoo on their ear to let people know they have been sterilized. The rabbits that are wild will be released back onto the campus, but volunteer rescue groups like The Bunny Bunch will keep the animals that can be adopted into new homes.
The program is being launched at Easter because the concept of the Easter Bunny has contributed to the problem. Each year after the holiday, the campus sees an influx of new rabbits and territorial wars.
“It’s actually a dangerous place,” Olson said to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “They (new rabbits) can be attacked by predators, or attacked by other rabbits. They have colonies and are very territorial.”
The new homeless rabbits are easy to recognize. “They’re usually off by themselves or hiding in a corner. They’ll hop up on your lap and look at you like, ‘Please take me home,’” said Olson.
Signs have been posted all over the campus that LBCC police will be issuing a $500 fine for anyone caught abandoning an animal.
Dr. Diane McClue, an associate professor of veterinary medicine at Western University of Health Sciences thinks many of the rabbits will be easily placed in new homes. “These rabbits are not wild rabbits – they are pet rabbits who have been abandoned. These bunnies are so happy and relaxed to be in a sheltered environment with adequate food and water. They deserve to have a forever home.”
The first 100 rabbits are recuperating, but should soon be available for adoption. For more information contact Jacque Olson at LBCC.
Bunnies and baby chicks do not make good holiday/spring gifts. Find out why and then sign our ‘Chocolate Not Chicks’ petition today!
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