WATCH | Las Vegas parks and green spaces have a major rabbit overpopulation problem. Residents estimate their numbers are in the thousands, and with spring coming, it's about to get so much worse.
It started a few years ago when a handful of unwanted pet rabbits were dumped in local parks, who then mated with the wild rabbits. At first it was only a few parks, but today, almost every green space and vacant lot in suburban Vegas is crawling with rabbits.
It only took a few months for their numbers to expand faster than anyone could keep up with, and it created a hybrid domesticated/feral rabbit population that's different from your average cotton tail rabbit.
Dave Schweiger is a local rabbit advocate who is dedicated to helping these rabbits. He says it's especially unfair to leave these rabbits to their own devices because they don't have the reflexes and instincts of full-bred wild rabbits.
Plus, a lot of these domesticated rabbits have less-than-ideal markings, like this white rabbit. Cute, but unfortunately a rabbit like that doesn't stand a chance at long-term success in the wild. That's easy prey for a predator.
Dave is part of a larger group of advocates that spend a lot of time (and their own money) to feed and care for these rabbits. Dave also tries his best to capture, spay/neuter, and release. Sometimes, he adopts out the really friendly ones.
Vegas animal shelters and official rescue organizations are maxed out with rabbits, so they're not able to offer any support. Dave says the best solution to fix this problem is proper education, and a few key takeaway points.
First and foremost, spay and neuter pets - especially pet rabbits. Know what proper pet care entails for each species. Rabbits need a particular diet and activity, so know that ahead of time.
Adopt, don't shop. Especially in this case in Vegas, there are more than enough rabbits that need adopting.
And last - definitely never abandon a pet in a park. It's just not worth the ramifications for the city, or the animal itself.
Take a look at this Facebook page if you're curious to follow the ground efforts by other local residents in Vegas.
And check out another story about a major animal issue in Southeast Asia.