Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Headline Sounds Worse Than the Story

From Time.com, here's the headline: "Energizer Bunnies: Turning Rabbits into Green Fuel." That sounds a little grim, right? It doesn't until you get into the story, because what it's really about is irresponsible pet owners who were too lazy to care for their animals, and the ecological problems it can cause.

"The rabbit population there [Stockholm, Sweden] has exploded over the past few years thanks to owners setting free their pets. Last year the eradication squad killed 6,000 of the furry critters, which are not native to Sweden. When the city started killing the rabbits in 2006, officials realized they would have to dispose of their carcasses. At around the same time, the European Union passed a law that makes it illegal to dispose of raw meat or carcasses in landfills. Solution: use the bunnies as fuel to heat Swedish homes."

Even as an animal lover, I know something has to be done and you can't force people to be responsible with their animals. I do feel the Swedish rabbit hunters are actually doing the best thing for the rabbits by hunting them. Think of the rabbits in terms of a herd of deer: overpopulation and overcrowding in a herd can lead to disease, malnutrition and the like. The herds have to be thinned out for their own good. If not, then what diseases could be spread elsewhere? However, not everyone feels the same way. And nope, it's not PETA that's complaining (yet).

"It feels like they're trying to turn the animals into an industry rather than look at the main problem," says Anna Johannesson of the Society for the Protection of Wild Rabbits. Johannesson and other wildlife campaigners recommend spraying the park with a chemical that makes shrubs and plants unappetizing to the animals. Tuvuynger, though, has little sympathy for that argument. "If you do that you only move the problem 100 meters away. Overpopulation is not good for the animals' well-being because they use up limited natural resources for survival, so shooting them is the only answer."

If in one year, the hunters have killed 6,000 rabbits, that's too many for any group (or groups, plural) to consider trapping and rehoming them.

And in a sad way that does mean the remains are being disposed of, at least people will have heat for their homes from it all. According to the article, "One hundred thousand tons of raw material can generate enough heat for 11,000 homes a year...Not only does that help Europe meet its ambitious green energy targets, it also aids in the E.U's bid to reduce landfill waste levels by 35% by 2020."

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