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Alex McRae Columnist

Published Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bad news bunnies

Easter is coming and America’s rabbits couldn’t be happier. For one glorious day, they’ll deliver chocolate eggs and cheap toys and be cherished by children. Then it’s back in the cultural closet for another 364 days.

It’s hard to believe, but in certain places in America, cute, cuddly bunnies are even despised at Easter. In fact, in Denver, Co., rabbits haven’t had so much bad press since the infamous “killer rabbit” attacked former President Jimmy Carter while Jimmy was fishing at the family pond in Plains, Ga.

According to former Carter press secretary Jody Powell, the horrible hare that came after Carter was no cute, fuzzy bundle of love.

“The animal was clearly in distress, or perhaps berserk,” Powell said. “What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.”

From Powell’s description—hissing noises and gnashing its teeth—it sounded like the rabbit needed an exorcism. A priest wasn’t available, so Carter fought off the beast with a boat paddle. Eventually the story leaked to the national press. The incident didn’t help Carter’s approval ratings, but at least demonstrated his skill at dealing with what Elmer Fudd calls “Wascally Wabbits.”

Maybe Carter should offer his services to Denver International Airport, where a pack of unruly rabbits is causing big problems.

The bunnies aren’t disrupting air travel. They’re creating parking problems in a way airport designers never anticipated.

Denver gets cold. Rabbits like to be warm. Cars entering Denver International’s parking lots each morning are toasty warm. Bunnies began seeking heat and shelter under car hoods. They quickly discovered that the tangle of wires under the cars’ hoods made for appetizing snacks.

Wiley Faris, a spokesman for Arapahoe Autotek in Denver recently told the local press: “They find that many of the materials used for coating ignition cables are soy-based, and the rabbits find that quite tasty.”

Spark plug wires are tempting targets, too. It’s not unusual for bunnies to cause thousands of dollars in damage or eat a car right out of business.

Wildlife officials are removing up to 100 rabbits from the airport each month, but have trouble catching the bunnies once they hide under a hood. A few perpetrators are spotted on their way to nap time.

Airport-shuttle driver Michelle Anderson told a Denver TV station, “I see at least dozens every morning. They go hide under the cars, and the cars are warm.”

Airport officials are doing their best to solve the problem. So far, they have installed more fencing and built perches for hawks and eagles, hoping the birds of prey will feast on bunnies all day.

And one other rabbit-fighting product is growing in popularity. “Predator urine is a good deterrent,” Faris said. “You can pick it up at any professional hunting shop.”

Now, well-informed travelers headed to Denver International coat car wires with coyote urine to keep bunnies at bay.

This can’t be good for the airline business. Rising fares, sagging in-flight amenities and conditions normally found in minimum security prisons have already made flying about as appealing as a Carnival cruise.

The only thing that could make flying worse is having to smear coyote pee on your spark plug wires before you drive to the airport. Now it’s happened.

No one is sure if current attempts to run off the rabbits will succeed. But everyone agrees on this: ever since marijuana became legal in Colorado, nobody seems to care quite as much.

As my grandmother loved to say, “It’s a blessing.”


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