- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

CULVER, Ore. (AP) - The bunnies are not so bountiful now, but Harry Carman is worried about spring.

Last summer, upward of 50 rabbits frequented his Fifth Avenue property adjacent to the Culver schools campus, said Carman, 65. The rabbits were a real problem.

“They ate every one of the flowers (I) put out,” he said this week. “They ate the garden, and they ate my drip irrigation.”

He says he’s talked to officials from local governments and agencies, but none offered solutions, and he doesn’t know what to do next about the bunnies. On a chilly, foggy Thursday morning, four rabbits hopped around yards near Carman’s home. Most of the bunnies likely holed up for the winter, waiting for warmer weather to be more active.

He said he hopes to find a solution before they come back.

“I want to try to get rid of them so I’m not getting all this damage done,” said Carman, who has lived in the home since 2005. “It was about $150 in damage last year.”

Carman said he has talked with people at the city of Culver, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said he has not found help.

Being in the city, he cannot fire a gun at them, he said. He could trap them but then could not release them somewhere else, because they are not wild. He does not want to put poison out, because other animals could be drawn to the deadly bait.

Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said there really is not any help his office can offer.

“There is nothing we can do,” he said. “We have dog control. We don’t have animal control.”

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife could issue a free trapping permit for someone dealing with feral rabbits like those in Culver, said Rick Boatner, invasive species coordinator for the department in Salem. In a way, he said, the bunnies, which might breed with wild rabbits, could be considered invasive.

“As long as they are taken care of quickly they are not a problem,” he said. “If they are allowed to reproduce, they can quickly populate an area.”

Carman said he has heard about the Department of Fish and Wildlife permit that would allow him to trap the rabbits.

“But then what are you going to do with them?” Carman said.

With a permit to trap feral rabbits, Carman could then take them outside of city limits and shoot them - then eat their meat if he desired - or give the live animals to a wildlife rehabilitation group, said Boatner.

Trapping the rabbits could quickly become expensive, Carman argues. Doing so would involve buying traps, food for bait, gas to drive to the country and cartridges.

“Why not just do it right here, and you are cutting out all the extra expense?” he said.

Although city officials sympathize with Carman, they do not have good answers for him, Donna McCormack, city recorder/manager for Culver, said late Thursday morning as she prepared for a senior citizens lunch at Culver City Hall.

“You know, chasing rabbits is like chasing feral cats,” she said. “What can you do?”

Culver Mayor Nancy Diaz said Thursday she plans to talk with Carman soon.

Rabbits have roamed Culver, an agricultural town near Madras, for years, McCormack said. No one is sure where they came from, but they sometimes swarm different parts of the small city.

Carman’s 47-year-old neighbor, Roy Mobley, said this batch of bunnies came from a trio of domestic rabbits released six or eight years ago by someone down the street.

“There is just getting to be more and more of them,” he said.

Unlike Carman, Mobley said he does not mind the rabbits. He even regularly feeds the four rabbits seen bouncing around Thursday morning. Mobley has lived in his home on Fifth Avenue for 15 years and has not had issues with rabbit damage.

Not as fond of the furry critters, Carman continues to check around his house for destruction brought by bunnies. Thursday, he pointed out holes dug in his flower bed, dirt kicked up onto his heat pump and a collapsed burrow in his yard-equipment shed.

He also has concerns about the safety hazard posed by their holes; he tripped on a rabbit hole and fell Sunday while taking out the trash And, he’s worried that the rabbit droppings accumulating in his yard could pose a health risk.

“It’s just to the point that it is beyond ridiculous,” Carman said.


Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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