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Bad bunny is munching on reader’s evergreen shrubs

Q: I have a rabbit living in my front yard and eating the leaves off my evergreen shrubs that are about 30 years old. He’s eaten all of the bottom leaves and I see him standing trying to reach the upper leaves. I have tried shooing him away every time I see him to no avail. I don’t want to hurt him and want to know a safe way to get rid of him. I can tell he’s a wild rabbit and not a store bought rabbit; he runs very fast when I approach him. I called a pest control company and they charge over $100.

Dr. Jeff NicholDr. Nichol: Why, that wascally wabbit! I think you need to contact Elmer Fudd for this job, although he was never very good at pest control.

To help send this rabbit packing, with kindness, I contacted Dr. Danny Levenson of the Southwest Animal Medical Center in Albuquerque. He is trained and experienced with rabbits, among multiple other pet species. He explained that if this naughty bunny is consuming just one or two bushes you can try decorative fencing or a physical barrier that won’t let the rabbit in. The little porker will feast off someone else’s landscaping if you make it difficult enough for him to filch your foliage.

Another option is a “Havahart” trap. Put really tasty rabbit food in it, like leafy greens and carrots from your salad. When you catch that varmint you can transport it somewhere far away. Dr. Levenson said, “Not far like Narnia, but far like 1 to 2 miles.”

You can buy a Havahart trap on Amazon for $29 or you can ask the New Mexico House Rabbit Society for help. While the name suggests an organization of rabbits, its membership is actually comprised of humans who are committed to the welfare of this generally benign species.

Dr. Levenson also stressed that there is a new rabbit virus called RHDV (rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus) from Europe that is now in New Mexico. It kills more than 90% of wild rabbits. Touching a feral bunny, its stool or urine, and then handling a pet rabbit would risk spreading the infection.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post questions on or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.