Humor Non-Fiction posted May 25, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
Still hopping mad after all these years...

Moving Brer Rabbit

by another jim

A couple of years ago, I wrote and posted a poem here—a tanka, I believe it was—about the rabbits in my yard. Since not much has changed since then, I'm once again feeling the need to vent.

I have lots of flower gardens, see, and those floppy-eared varmints keep chowing down on what's growing in them. They're especially wild about certain perennials: coneflowers, hosta, coreopsis, etc. And that's not all. Last year I had to kiss two brand new oakleaf hydrangeas and a flowering weigela goodbye, all because of some rabbit family's misplaced sense of entitlement.

The truth is, their unwelcome presence has given me a whole new appreciation for Elmer Fudd's compulsion to shoot that cwazy wabbit. Me? I'm afraid of guns. But I'm not afraid of traps.

Now, before you go off on me about mangling some poor bunny in the hungry teeth of a steel monster, let me explain. The kind of trap I use is manufactured by a company subscribing to the notion that it's not necessary to kill something in order to be rid of it. In other words, blind rage and compassion are not always mutually exclusive—which is why I snare these fluffy marauders in a little cage and let them go. Not in my back yard, mind you, but in a wooded wildlife sanctuary situated a few miles down the road.

I've labeled this my Rabbit Relocation Program. The state where I live labels it illegal; it's apparently against the law to move animals in the wild from one location to another without a permit. I can trap them, and I can slaughter them, I just can't banish them. This, then, has become a game of sorts, where the sides keep changing and the rules beg to be broken.

At dawn and dusk, when these poachers are most active, it's all about me and the rabbits. Once one of them goes for the bait—slices of apple soaked in carrot juice—that bugger's vandalizing days are numbered. I employ two cages, and if there's one thing I like better than hearing the clang! of a trap door slamming shut, it's hearing two clangs! in succession. Catching a single rabbit makes me happy; catching two at once makes me ecstatic.

My wife tells me I need to get a life. After re-reading that last paragraph, I realize that perhaps she's right.

Anyway, when I'm ready to exile my prey, I load him—or his wife, it's so hard to tell—into the back of my car. At that point the rabbit and I become allies as we match wits with the local authorities. I have a favorite drop-off point; it's located at the edge of the woods, behind a strip mall where my felonious activities can't be observed...unless, by some stroke of bad luck, the girl running the tanning salon steps out back for a smoke and sees what I'm up to. Or thinks she sees, right before she calls the cops and reports some weirdo behind her building releasing rats from a cage. I've since learned to wait until dark, or until Tan-Fast Inc closes up shop, whichever comes first.

If you're concerned about my program's effect on the nuclear bunny family, worry not. I've moved entire colonies (warrens? herds?) of rabbits from my yard to that wildlife refuge over the years. Big ones, small ones, parents, sibs... They all go without complaint, probably with the expectation that the rest of the family will soon follow—which it inevitably does. In fact, I'm waiting for the headline in the local paper that's sure to appear:

Rabbit population at local wildlife sanctuary exploding!
                   Authorities remain baffled

I've snagged more than a few non-rabbits in those traps, too. Birds and squirrels, even a couple of rats, have found their way into my cages. (All but the rats were released for good behavior.) My favorite, though, was the skunk; for obvious reasons, I decided to call in a professional trapper for that one—who, unlike me, did have a permit to relocate what he caught. I hope he let him go behind that tanning salon.

So, there you have it. My beautiful garden lives to see another summer, the cute bunnies get to live in a much better neighborhood, and I can look at the man in the mirror and say...dude, maybe you should get a life.


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