Uncle Wiggily would not be amused

Ed
Ed Smith
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Rabbits, rabbits everywhere, and no one with a snare.
No trouble to play "Button, button, who's got the button" on the campus of the University of Victoria these days. With an estimated 2,000 bunnies running around free and unfettered, buttons - rabbit buttons, that is - are a dime a dozen.
You don't call rabbit poop "buttons"? Look at the shape of them, man! They could hold together a sealskin coat.
That's what my father taught me to call them, anyway. Then again, he was a clergyman and probably didn't want to teach me to call it what it was: rabbit s--t. Even so, I probably would have had to learn to say, "Look, that's rabbit s hyphen hyphen t."
He also taught us to spell hell, "h e two sticks." My father was very creative in his determination to keep us (me especially) out of h e two sticks.
Actually, my kids were told to call them buttons, too. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, or the button far from the bum.
An official of the university said the amount of "feces" on campus lawns is astonishing. Feces? I think I'd rather call it rabbit s hyphen hyphen t.
I'd be astonished if it wasn't astonishing. Rabbits produce poop faster than they drop young. We used to keep pet rabbits back when the kids were little. We had to hire a man and buy him a square top shovel just to keep the cages cleaned out once a day. I could never have afforded two rabbits.
I've got bad news for the UVic administration. Rabbits multiply faster than you can say "tuition fees." I've tried it. I didn't actually say "tuition fees," but from the time I first noticed the intent in Br'er Rabbit's eye to the moment he was reaching for his cigarettes, I did not get out, "Well, I'll be. …"
I'd like to say they reproduce exponentially. However, I didn't do real well in university math, so I'm not sure what exponentially means. My own interpretation would be that they have a good time a heck of a lot faster than you or me. If your Significant Other isn't happy with your own quick ways, she should watch a couple of rabbits go at it. She'd love you forever.
So what are those poor people out on Vancouver Island to do with this problem? I know, I know - most of you have a solution, but we're talking the other side of this wide continent here, so let's listen to some of their options. Remember, these are unfortunate souls who aren't nearly as creative as are we in this province.
One particularly interesting and practical idea coming from the university was to sterilize 150 of the rabbits. Details are scanty about this ingenious idea. They don't say, for example, whether they planned to do vasectomies on the males or tie the tubes of the females.
In pigs, the practice of removing the testicles with sharp teeth is still widely in use, usually without anesthetic to either the biter or the bitee. I doubt whether rabbits or university personnel would survive that.
It's hilarious to realize that these people think 150 "sterilized" rabbits, even if they were all male, would have that much effect on 2,000. I can hear them now in their bunny language running around like mad.
"More for me, boys, more for me!"
One of the concerns is for the creatures themselves. Seems that significant numbers of them are being run over by cars. So, someone made a much more sensible suggestion. Simply shoot them. I assume the reason for this would be to save them from themselves.
The suggestion I have for all these people is that they look to the East, away to the East, across the Prairies, the Canadian Shield, the Maritime Provinces and across the Cabot Strait. Send a well-educated panel of PhDs to talk to us about how to handle a rabbit problem.
The first thing to point out would be that these are not native Canadian rabbits. I saw pictures of them and they include every colour under the rainbow, including black-and-white. These are generations of offspring of pet rabbits that were released by people in the area who didn't know what else to do with them, and they are now feral or wild.
In Newfoundland, our rabbits are actually snowshoe hares - a uniform brown in summer and white in winter.
My first response would be a proposal. If they would waive tuition fees, accommodation and meal costs, the price of 100 yards of brass wire and spring for a trip back to Newfoundland every weekend, I'd get Number One Son to enroll in UVic for a month.
I freely predict in that time he'd snare every last one, have sold them on a street corner in Chinatown in Vancouver and split the profits with the university, 90-10.
There are other more extreme options. A cull similar to the Australian model might work. Down there, where rabbits have become an incredible nuisance, they herd them up against fences built for the purpose. Then workers armed with clubs wade in among them and beat their little brains out.
I haven't actually seen this in practice, mind you, but I have read about it in magazines. Interesting, is it not, that PETA and its like don't seem to have cottoned on to this at all. Still more money in seals, I guess.
Another thought is to trap a few dozen coyotes and set them loose among the rabbits. It would make for an interesting wildlife documentary, if nothing else.
Or include snares to the student population in their condom packages, along with several recipes for baked rabbit, fried rabbit and rabbit pie. Would the students eat them? Of course they would.
Just tell them rabbit meat is a strong aphrodisiac.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: University of Victoria, Canadian Shield

Geographic location: Vancouver Island, Newfoundland, Maritime Provinces Chinatown Springdale

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