Friday, June 11, 2021

The flawed strategy of the bunnies by the side of the road

I take the majority of my morning walks/runs along our street, Miller Avenue, and its creatively named westward extension, West Miller. Together, these streets provide a simple (if hilly) 2.32-mile loop I use as the basis for most of my A.M. excursions.

The route passes by a series of wide grassy areas in which you can usually find some combination of deer, racoons, possums, birds, and skunks, depending on how early you get out the door. Also featured there are what Terry and I simply call The Bunnies™.

These are some common species of wild rabbit, but we never call them "rabbits." It is always "The Bunnies™."

This morning while chugging down West Miller, I had a very typical encounter with one of The Bunnies™.

A bunny will be happily chomping on grass by the side of the road as I approach. He/she will then see me coming. If these bunnies were smarter and had some system of passing down tribal knowledge, they would have learned from their parents that I am a common sight on the streets in the morning and am absolutely harmless.

(NOTE: I wanted to use the rabbit equivalent of "tribal" in that paragraph, so I looked up what a group of rabbits is called. There is apparently some difference of opinion out there, but one of the common designations is a "fluffle" of rabbits. Really. I would have happily used that word, except I don't know how to render it in adjectival form. "Fluffle-ey" knowledge? "Fluffinial" knowledge? "Flufflenian" knowledge? I have no idea. So I stuck with "tribal.")

Anyway, rabbits don't seem to have any method of societal knowledge transfer, so they rely purely on instinct. And this bunny's instinct told him I could definitely be a threat and he should do what these bunnies always do when I approach.

He stayed where he was and sat perfectly still.

This is not, it must be said, an ideal approach. For one thing, the bunnies are not camouflaged against the grass, so they're readily visible even from a distance. And even though they generally do a good job of remaining motionless, it doesn't matter. I'm already staring right at them.

Regardless, here's what also happens every time: They will stand there until I get within a few feet, and then they'll run away in terror. Every time.

The problems with this whole philosophy are evident:

(1) You, as a bunny, are very quick. By waiting until I'm right on top of you before you run, you nullify this advantage and make it easier for me to lunge out and get you (which, let's be clear, I would never do, but they don't know me).

(2) More importantly, if this is your strategy, then you have to stick to it. Have some nerve, bunnies. If you're going with the stand-perfectly-still approach, see it through to the end. The assumption here (the key to this whole method of defense, really) is that I don't see you in the first place. Why ruin it by running away at the very late minute and making yourself extremely obvious? Why, The Bunnies™, why??

I have no answers, but I'm considering some sort of leaflet campaign among the bunnies urging them to reconsider their absolutely terrible approach to keeping me from killing them.

Which, again, I would never do. But they're bunnies. They can't be expected to know I have their best interests at heart.

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