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Relocation of Baby Bunnies

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From: Craig S
Midlothina, TX
Yes, I know you usually are not supposed to disturb nesting birds and or Bunnies and snakes. Every spring and nesting season I have to protect the local fauna from my dogs. The breed I have was bred as a farm dog and no "vermin" are safe in their presence. Yet at the same time it does get old having to walk my dog on a leash in his own yard. Luckily I found the present nest before the male who has a taste for raw bunny and will gobble a nest in the blink of an eye. If they had their eyes open I don't think relocating them would be a problem but these kits though furred don't have their eyes open yet. I had hoped that with my chain link fence and the presence of the dogs the bunnies would get the idea and not nest inside. Besides several snakes, a Barred owl and a Swainson's hawk also hunt my property. This is the fourth nest I've found this year or rather the dogs. Three were bunnies and one was a field rat. Rest assured, I'm not unaware of the danger this poses two my dogs also. I don't wish to use chemical controls but I'm running out of ideas here and I really would like my dog to be able to run and exercise in his own yard. First and foremost today. Is there a way I can safely for the kits, relocate this nest and future nests that I may find before becoming dog snacks. 2nd Without harming the local birds, snakes ( I actually have Texas Garter Snakes or at least I had one which are getting rare too.) etc. is there anything that can be done other than keeping it mowed which I already do as much as I can. Its hot here and I have to keep the grass a bit longer if it hopes to survive also.

Extension Message
From: Laura Kammin
Visiting Extension Specialist, Pollution Prevention
Extension-Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
Hello Craig, You can't successfully relocate a rabbit nest. The female will not go looking for the young in a new nest. She will just abandon the young and they will starve to death or get taken by predators. So for this nest, I'd recommend walking the dogs on a leash for another week and half. I know what a pain that is because I have two dogs and a fenced yard and am surrounded by female rabbits that just don't seem to get that my backyard is not baby bunny friendly when the dogs are outside alone. The leash is extra work, but it is cheap and effective. To deter future nests, you'll have to keep the adult rabbits out, which means modifying the chain link fence. Any depressions under the fence have to be filled in. It doesn't take much for them to be able to squeeze under the fence. And using hardware cloth or another smaller-gauge wire at the base of the fence will keep field rats or small rabbits from squeezing through the chain link fence. To be sure, it is a time-consuming task and not inexpensive. But it is the best option for keeping the rabbits out. Chemical deterrents won't work. And unfortunately, the presence of dogs won't either. Coming from someone who is on their third backyard rabbit nest of the season...Good luck!

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