|Title||Volunteers work to capture abundant bunnies from Seattle parks|
|Scope & Content||
2006-03_bunnies headed for Redmond.doc
Volunteers work to capture abundant bunnies from Seattle parks
02:39 PM PST on Wednesday, March 8, 2006
The rabbits have burrowed holes throughout the area and done significant damage to the plants and trees.
SEATTLE - Volunteers are racing Mother Nature as they try to round up hoards of domestic rabbits -- many pregnant -- that have been released near the city's Woodland Park Zoo and Green Lake Park.
Parks officials hope to remove the frisky animals that have been digging a labyrinth of tunnels under the park, damaging trees and plants.
Efforts that began Feb. 27 have corralled about 40 rabbits that are being temporarily sheltered in cages at Magnuson Park at Sand Point -- separated by gender.
"There are 200 to 300 rabbits out there, and every female we are picking up is pregnant," said Sandi Ackerman, founder of Rabbit Meadows Sanctuary, who is helping Seattle Parks and Recreation capture the animals.
The captured rabbits, some likely abandoned Easter gifts, are to be sterilized and taken to the sanctuary in Redmond, and possibly adopted out.
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To capture and sterilize each animal costs about $100. The city of Seattle set aside $20,000 to cover medical costs. Almost $8,000 has come from private contributions.
The roundup was conceived a few years ago as a more humane option for reducing the population after the parks department's practice of gassing geese was frowned upon. In 1999, Redmond businesses and King County pooled $60,000 to capture rabbits in that area.
"Euthanizing the critters wasn't considered," said Dewey Potter, a spokeswoman with the parks department. "There is a close attachment between humans and small furry woodland creatures."
The roundup has been focused at the north end of a picnic-shelter loop at Woodland Park, as well as a small meadow on the west side of Green Lake. Woodland Park and Green Lake are next to each other in north Seattle.
Volunteers use cabbage and carrots to lure the rabbits into a 6-foot-square cage that closes them in when sprung.
Many of the animals are found injured, volunteer Mark Pilger said. One was missing an eye and another had a broken leg that was partially healed.
The roundup has been slow since people often feed the animals, Ackerman said, but they need to be hungry to take the bait.
She estimated it could take two or three months to capture all of the rabbits, longer if people don't stop feeding them.
"We need to trap as fast as possible because those moms who gave birth undoubtedly are pregnant again already. Within a few hours after giving birth, they will mate again."