In Carson: Bunnies cause neighborhood concern | RecordCourier.com

In Carson: Bunnies cause neighborhood concern

Provided by the Nevada Appeal

Feral rabbits have been making themselves at home in a Carson City neighborhood for months now, and there is concern the animals will quickly propagate and become a furry nuisance.

Jennifer Greenwood is worried the animals won’t be safe much longer. She lives in the North Division Street area where the bunnies are and provides them with nightly carrot deliveries so they won’t go hungry.

“It’s not rocket science,” she said. “Why would I want to do anything other than help?”

At least some of the rabbits used to be pets owned by another family in the neighborhood. They managed to escape, however, and their owners couldn’t get them back, according to Greenwood.

“They thanked me for feeding them,” she said.

She believes some residents simply consider the rabbits pests and are putting out poison to kill them. This method of control isn’t really appropriate to simply keep animals out of one’s garden and could endanger other pets in the neighborhood, she said.

“Many of them used to be somebody’s pet,” she said. “Would you poison somebody’s pet?”

She’s also worried the rabbits might end as prey for bigger animals in the area or even tortured by youths.

City Animal Services would like to capture the animals, spay or neuter them, and put them up for adoption, said Patrick Wiggins, animal regulation supervisor.

Wiggins and Greenwood aren’t sure how many rabbits are in the area. She guesses there are a dozen or more, though it’s hard to tell precisely how many because most of them are white, she said.

Another neighborhood closer to the center of the city, around John Street, had dozens of rabbits hopping around, eating plants and landscaping several years ago.

“Rabbits love tomato plants,” Wiggins said.

The city will provide humane traps to people to help catch the rabbits as they come available. There is only so much space available at the shelter for animals and running loose across the city are scores of feral cats, skunks and raccoons along with escaped pets, Wiggins said.

Nonsterilized rabbits are prolific at reproducing. They have a 30-day gestation and have many litters of offspring.

Healthy rabbits that have been spayed or neutered “can make good pets.”

Some of the rabbits Greenwood watches over live underneath outbuildings at Fritsch Elementary School. They crawl under the fence and scamper around the neighborhood looking for food, then return to the campus, said David Aalbers, school principal.

They don’t come out much when school is in session.

“We’ve been trying to be humane in getting them removed from our grounds,” Aalbers said. “We’ve found homes for the ones we’ve caught.”

Two state Supreme Court justices pushed Monday to revise Nevada’s sentencing laws, and spend more money on drug and mental health programs.

Justice Jim Hardesty asked lawmakers to let judges deviate from mandatory sentencing laws established in 1995, as long as the judge submits written findings explaining why the deviation is appropriate. Prosecutors could appeal the action to the Supreme Court if they disagreed.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to sentence a young man to 10 to 25 years in the Nevada state prison who gets paid $150 to drive a car from Sacramento to Utah” containing narcotics, Hardesty told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Hardesty said Nevada laws don’t allow prosecutors to make deals in such cases, or allow judges to deviate from sentencing rules.

Hardesty said that allowing judges to deviate from the rules, with findings, is similar to how sentencing guidelines are used in federal courts.

Judiciary Chairman Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said he’s open to returning some discretion to the judges, but they’d have to be careful to explain their decisions. The mandatory sentencing rules were established in 1995 after victims’ rights groups demanded them, he said.

“Those mandatory sentencings were the result of rooms like this being packed with people who said, ‘Hey, so and so got a sweetheart of a deal,”‘ said Amodei.

While the justices pushed for more flexible sentencing guidelines in Amodei’s committee, Hardesty and Chief Justice Bill Maupin also are asking lawmakers on money committees to support drug and mental health court programs that can get offenders into treatment programs rather than prison.

“When I first heard about this program, I was very skeptical,” said Maupin. “What I found out was, mental health courts around this country have become very well recognized as having permanent success.”

Hardesty said that the Supreme Court requested $5 million in state general funds to pay for drug courts and treatment programs for drug offenders, but a budget subcommittee recently approved only $1 million for those programs.

“Compared to what we requested, and compared to frankly what the demand is ” which is $30 million ” it was disappointing,” said Hardesty.

That budget isn’t yet finalized, and Hardesty said he’s still hopeful that lawmakers will see fit to redirect some of the state’s prison budget to fund those programs. Gov. Jim Gibbons has urged legislators to spend $300 million on prison construction in his proposed budget.

Clark County has about 75 offenders in drug courts presently, and Hardesty said he’s hoping to at least double that number. There’s demand for at least 600 offenders to get into drug court, he added.