From time to time the OWCN staff gets questions about what we do during non-spill times. While we do spend a lot of time training and preparing supplies for spill response, we occasionally step out of the oiled wildlife box and put our skills to good use.
A few months back an interesting topic came up in my carpool. One of my carpool buddies works at the UC Davis Arboretum, and it came to her attention that there was a black and white rabbit running around the arboretum that visitors had seen from time to time. I mentioned that it was a domestic rabbit that someone had probably disposed of, and that we could take it to a shelter where it would have a much better chance of survival. One day we received a call that the rabbit had been spotted, so part of the OWCN team, plus a few extra hands from the Wildlife Health Center took to the arboretum in search of the mystery bunny.
Thirty minutes into the search we began to think that the phantom rabbit had moved on, and then we saw her hanging out in one of the gardens, munching on some drought tolerant Arboretum All Star plants. Our team headed into the garden to grab the rabbit – easy, right? Wrong. While she did not seem very disturbed by our presence or attempts to capture her, she craftily evaded us by darting past at the last minute, only to resume chomping away at the abundant plant life.
At one point she darted over to the next garden and lodged herself in a very large, very prickly bush, and settled in for what appeared to be a short nap. Surely we couldn’t allow this little gal to get the better of us, so we did what any good animal lover would do, and climbed into the bush. Then we got a rather tiny surprise. Not only was there a black and white bunny in the shrub, but there was a black and white baby bunny as well – that one proved easier to catch! The little guy was big enough to be eating on his own, but appeared to be the only one left from her litter. Black and white domestic bunnies in an arboretum full of wildlife do not stand much chance of survival, and juveniles are just the right size for a snack for a hungry predator.
We did manage to catch mom as well (after calling for additional back-up!), and they were delivered safely to the SPCA for adoption. So long story short, when the OWCN isn’t responding to spills, we like to look out for animals of all kinds in every situation. Please remember that if you can’t care for your domestic pet, they need to go to a shelter, NOT dumped into the wild!