June 9, 2011 |

Rabbits on the run: Population booming

Burgeoning numbers of feral rabbits are munching local gardens and prompting calls to borough and animal control officials. Some residents, however, enjoy them.

"I think they’re really cute, but I don’t have a vegetable garden," said Fort Seward resident Sarah Elliott.

Deishu Drive resident Mike Case said in cooler weather he’s seen dozens of brown and black rabbits near his home.

"There’s so many of them, at times, that you don’t know if they’re just going through a cycle or what," he said. "My little dog loves to chase them, but he’s never caught one yet."

Case said it’s hard to keep track of them.

"You’ll see them out there when they’re just away from their moms, and then the next thing you know, they’re the moms," he said.

Steve Vick, Haines Animal Rescue Kennel executive director, said rabbits have multiplied in the Deishu area.

"From my knowledge, someone had domesticated rabbits there, either moved or the rabbits grew too big, let them out and they self-produced on their own," Vick said. "There’s a clan of rabbits that hang out there."

The animals have raised a few concerns in town. The Haines Borough Police Department received two calls about rabbits in less than a week last month.

The first call was May 13 and referred to a rabbit that appeared to be tame on FAA Road. Five days later, a caller said a person had threatened to kill rabbits near Deishu. The information also was reported to HARK.

"If there’s a call of someone threatening to kill someone else’s animal, it’s a police issue, at that point," Vick said.

Police chief Gary Lowe said there is no department investigation under way for the alleged Deishu threats.

Rabbits recently targeted Wayne Hirsch’s garden near Deishu.

"They ate all of my lettuce, and I’m very mad at them, because I had to pay for that lettuce," Hirsch said.

He purchased wire to protect his lettuce, broccoli and cabbage.

Hirsch said he usually doesn’t mind the rabbits, "but when they eat your garden, that kind of upsets you."

Vick said HARK previously has offered some rabbits for adoption.

"If someone were to catch one and say, ‘I’m tired of these things being around,’ and turned it into us, then we’ve certainly had rabbits before and we would do our best to make sure they’re healthy and prepared for adoption," Vick said.

The Deishu rabbits have not yet been much of an issue for HARK, he said.

"If the rabbits were becoming a nuisance in any way or a public hazard or a safety hazard, we would treat it like we would a dog at large and do our best to capture them," Vick said. "There have been no complaints that these rabbits are a problem that we’ve heard."