SUPERIOR — A young rabbit shot with 8-inch blow-gun darts — likely the same one neighbors reported seeing last week — was found over the weekend and taken to the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
“It makes us angry to see something like this,” said Lindsey Goodwick, Greenwood’s volunteer services manager. “It worries us that someone thinks this is fun and might still be out there doing this to other animals.”
Children spotted the injured rabbit the afternoon of Aug. 30, according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. A woman in the neighborhood reported that the rabbit had been “hanging around” four or five houses at the intersection of Raymer Lane and Stoneham Street.
The children, who couldn’t catch the rabbit as it slipped under fences, said it was hit in the back leg and in its side. Goodwick said the bunny at Greenwood had darts in its upper left side and thigh.
Goodwick said the darts have been removed and the rabbit, which appears to be a young female, is “doing OK” and is expected to recover. Once recovered, the bunny will to be released back into the wild — though it won’t be released into the same neighborhood, she said.
The neighborhood where the darted rabbit was recovered is the same one where a dozen darted bunnies were found several years ago.
In 2006, a 1-year-old cottontail narrowly survived being hit in the head with a blow dart. That 3-pound rabbit was found near Raymer Lane with a yellow-tipped dart behind its right ear and jutting out from its face, according to an incident report.
At the time, residents had complained to authorities about seeing a dozen or more darted rabbits in the area and finding loose darts that apparently had been shaken off by rabbits in their yards on Stoneham Street, according to a report.
At one point, animal control officers said, authorities suspected a group of juveniles and found them in possession of a dart rifle. But they wouldn’t admit to anything, and officers never filed any charges because of a lack of evidence.
Suspects in the most recent darting could face fines and charges of cruelty to animals if investigators find the shooters and prove they meant to harm the animals. But people can legally kill rabbits on their property if they can show that the animals were damaging their property.
People who are licensed also can legally kill cottontail rabbits during the small game-hunting season, which opened last Wednesday — after the initial sightings of the darted rabbit — and runs through March 31, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
For more information about the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is recruiting volunteers to help care for more than 300 animals, go to greenwoodwildlife.org.