Nov. 12 2018 04:53 PM

The cute little guys with the floppy ears are a menace to carefully tended trees and plants.

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Snow recently fell in parts of the Midwest, blanketing the landscape with white. Another white thing, fur (and maybe brown, too) will shortly follow — attached to an army of hungry rabbits, according a story published on KIWA Radio’s (Sheldon, Iowa) website.

Horticultural experts at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are warning people that winter brings food scarcity for animals, which makes home landscapes a target for the rodents. They can severely damage trees and shrubs unless homeowners (and their landscape contractors) are proactive, making protecting them before winter arrives a major priority.

They say the most effective way to prevent bunnies from debarking trees and shrubs is to place chicken wire or hardware cloth fencing around vulnerable plants. The fencing material needs to be high enough so the thumpers won’t be able to climb or reach over the fence after a heavy snow. In most cases, a 24- to 36- inch-tall fence should do the trick.

These experts say that in order to prevent foraging rabbits from crawling underneath the fencing, it should be pinned to the soil with U-shaped anchor pins. Small trees can be protected by placing white corrugated or spiral tree guards around their trunks.

After a heavy snow, extension experts say you should check protected plants to make sure the rabbits won’t be able to reach or climb over the fencing or tree guards. If necessary, they suggest removing some of the snow to keep them from using the drifts as a ladder.

Mr. McGregor had no comment for reporters, nor did the rabbit known only as “Peter.”