Five minutes after depositing my beagle in the backyard, I stepped out to…a bunny apocalypse. One tiny rabbit wilted in the beagle’s mouth, and four more were scattered through the grass. The shallow scrape of a nest lay empty.
Silently cursing the rabbit who, year after doomed year, returned to rear her young in my dog-infested backyard, I acted quickly. The guilty-eyed beagle, already having dropped his bunny, was unceremoniously booted inside. Donning gloves, I carefully scooped up each of the stunned bunnies (including the soggy one) and inserted them back in their nest.
Step two of the Great Rabbit Rescue was to construct a bunny fortress. This consisted of a roomy wicker basket tipped upside-down with an opening large enough for a grown rabbit to enter but not large enough for the beagle. The basket was secured over the nest with tent stakes and the opening concealed with clumps of grass and clover.
I don’t know for sure if the mother rabbit will return to nurse her young. I don’t even know if I did the right thing in handling the bunnies. As an environmental educator, I am constantly urging my students not to interfere with nature and to leave young or injured animals alone. This is almost always the best solution. But sometimes in life we have to go with our gut, relying on a combination of heart and head to make decisions.
In this case, my heart won out. Hopefully, the bunnies will, too.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator