Spring brings jackrabbit baby boom of “kidnapped” bunnies

While walking through a popular shopping district in downtown Calgary yesterday afternoon, I spotted this little guy. Hidden behind some utility pipes right along the sidewalk of a busy street, there was a tiny, fluffy, nose-in-full-twitch, baby jackrabbit.

For a moment, I thought I should call someone or even, perhaps, scoop up the bunny to save it. The wee bunny must be orphaned, abandoned and otherwise doomed to die on a city sidewalk. Then I remembered the recent warning of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.

“If you see a baby hare, leave it right there,” says the group, which is based in Madden, northwest of Calgary and serves southern Alberta. It offers that reminder each spring.

“Each year we get in dozens of baby hares (jackrabbits) that are admitted to our centre and don’t need to be. They’ve been kidnapped,” notes Holly Duvall, the institute’s executive director. “This past week we have admitted week we have admitted over eight baby hares.”

Thus starts a peak season for the group. Each year it admits more than 1,600 wild animals, of those, more than 100 are white-tailed prairie hares that don’t need to be there.

And, there are many good reasons for the seemingly cruel advice.

Hares are born without a scent so they are less likely to be found by predators. Their mothers leave them alone throughout the day, but return a couple of times – typically dusk and dawn – to feed them. Unlike pet domestic rabbits, wild hares are born with their eyes open, covered in fur and are soon able to hop around and do things such as munch on grass.

“They are adapted to being alone, and it’s completely normal for them to run around and be in a different spot from where their mother left them,” the centre says.

Call the institute at (403) 946-2361, or a wildlife centre in your area if you see one these little rabbits and considered picking it up.

Despite being inner city, my neighbourhood has always been teeming with bunnies – and, the occasional coyote. And so, I snapped a few quick pictures and kept walking. I’m sure this bunny is just fine.

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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