Evan Thompson / The Record — Langley resident Sylvia Hollis holds up a picture of what her garden at her home on First Street used to look like before rabbits dug holes and deterred her efforts to maintain it.

Rabbits raid Langley City Hall garden, but overall population appears to be on the decline

Sylvia Hollis has waved the white flag in her clash with Langley’s bunnies.

The furry critters transformed the Langley resident’s once thriving garden to a barren lawn over the past two years. They mated and bred underneath her deck, left droppings in her yard and dug a minefield of holes in her gardens. Despite bunny-proofing her deck with the help of Mel Watson and other “rabbit protectors” with fencing, and stripping one of her gardens of edible plants, the bunnies still hang around Hollis’s property. While Hollis is seeing fewer rabbits than she did in 2015 when bunnies overpopulating Langley garnered national attention, their presence serves as a reminder of a lost cause.

“They have won as far as I’m concerned,” Hollis said. “My yard used to be lovely and it was my main hobby. There are fewer bunnies, but they are still doing what they do.”

In addition to tormenting Hollis, the bunnies pulled a new trick out of their ears this past week. Rabbits raided the edible garden in front of city hall and ate a patch of new plants donated to the Langley Main Street Association by Log House Plants, a plant nursery near Eugene, Ore. Around $100 worth of vegetables, ranging from peas to lettuce and spinach, were devoured, said Janet Ploof, president of the Langley Main Street Association.

Ploof also reported that the rabbits have eaten from city gardens on Second Street and Anthes Avenue. Fortunately for the association, Log House Plants sent around $500 worth of vegetables since then, Ploof said.

Lorinda Kay, program manager for the Langley Main Street Association, said the association has taken measures to prevent a future raid from occurring by planting the vegetables in a trough. A mesh wire has also been installed to prevent them from eating other freshly planted greens.

Coincidentally, the sneak attack by the bunnies comes on the eve of Bunny Daze, a week-long event from April 9-15 featuring bunny merchandise in shops, a “rabbit hunt” for stuffed animal rabbits and hop-scotch courts around town to help bolster commerce in the city’s downtown core. The event began in 2016 during a time when residents were divided on how the rabbits should be treated or managed. A few months before, in late 2015, representatives from the city, South Whidbey School District and the county fairgrounds considered everything from using falconry to kill off the rabbit population to flushing them out of their dens with ferrets.

Public Works Director Stan Berryman said that other than the recent raid, the bunnies haven’t caused the city many problems. He has, however, noticed an uptick in the number of bunnies around town.

“To us, it’s not too big of a deal,” Berryman said. “But for other people, it can be.”

The battle against the bunnies has died down for Langley residents Fran Johnson and Nancy Rowan. Both reported that they have seen fewer bunnies in their neighborhoods

Johnson, who referred to the rabbits as “a pain in the butt” when they dug holes all over her property, said the rabbit population has noticeably declined over the past two months.

“Either someone is trapping them or I don’t know what,” Johnson said. “They’re not like they were.”

Rowan dealt with similar issues as Johnson and Hollis and said she tried remedies such as liquid fencing, a spray that is meant to keep away rabbits and deer. On an average day in 2015, Rowan said she would see around eight to 10 rabbits in her yard. That is not so anymore.

“This is the time of the year where they should be all over,” Rowan said. “It’s funny because when they were here, they were such a pest and a nuisance.”

“But, I have to admit, now that they’re gone, I kind of miss them.”

Evan Thompson / The Record — Two rabbits munch on a carrot near Langley Middle School on Thursday afternoon.

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