The Bunny Story
present we have between 50 and 175 bunnies, more or less,
that live in harmony at Clarks. But this
wasnt always so. Our story begins on Friday Harbor,
an island in the nearby San Juan chain. Some years ago
someone released a few rabbits on the
islandprobably pets. There were no natural
predators on the island, and yes, the rabbit population
exploded. The islanders called for helpanyone, come
hunt these rabbits! Rudy and Tootsie, and friends, went
to the island each year to help the islanders and bring
back rabbit for the freezer.
About 1961 when the group of friends made the trip, Rudy decided to catch a few live rabbits to raise at home. Bob Wiley drove the car through the fields and Rudy sat on the fender with a net in his hands. It was dangerous, but they had great fun. He caught about 1/2 dozen. On the ferry ride home Rudy gave away all but three. The very next morning one rabbit was pulling fur to build a nest. Rudy and Tootsie went into rabbit raising. Here in the country, if you want to keep them safe from varmints, you usually keep them in the nice safe rabbit hutch or cage. As the rabbits multiplied, he built more hutches. Finally, the rabbits out-produced him, and he let some loose. That was the year Rudy made his garden fence rabbit-proof.
Around here, we have a lot of predators who appreciate a tasty meal of rabbit: hawks, owls, bobcats, cougar, coyote and bear. One year a bobcat came around; she took all but 11 rabbits for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Later a big old black bear paid several visits, as ornery and crazy as he could be. Our dog, Teddy always let us know when he was around. He came once about 10 p.m. and again at 4 a.m. for three nights in a row. He could smell the apples and vegetables in our utility roomand was determined to get in. During this time he destroyed the hutches and slaughtered at least half of the rabbits. The other half got away. Mr. Bear returned again -- and now he's the living room rug, but that's another story. Anyway, the bunnies that had escaped from the bear were used to being fed and housed and life outside, especially in the winter, was very hard. Most didn't survive the winter. However, some did, and since that time we have had "wild" bunnies here. Now the bunny population, sheltering under the cabins in the winter and fed day-old bread by our guests, young and old alike, is usually strong and wary enough to evade the occasional predator.
We ask that any pet you bring with you be kept on a leash when it is outside, to protect the bunnies. They are not pets, and are not willing to be picked up or cuddled. They have been known to bite a persistent youngster's hand, so please supervise your children. They do a big job around here, keeping the grass trimmed and everyone entertained!
Living as they do, wild on our premises, we are often called on by guests to come to the aid of an orphaned baby bunny or tend to an injured animal. Here's a recent patient, seemingly well on the road to recovery.