Rabbits destroying veggies?

Q. Rabbits get into my vegetable garden every year. How can I keep them out?

Paul from Youngstown

A. Wildlife lover or not, there is nothing worse than growing a great crop, only to have the wildlife eat it before you do.

There are some things you can do to discourage rabbits from the garden.

But first, let’s talk wildlife damage in general.

Some of the information I’m sharing is based on the work of our OSU Extension Wildlife Specialist, Marne Titchenell.

Here are the basic steps for managing wildlife damage in your yard and garden:

Assess the damage.

Identify the species responsible.

Assess cost of damage vs. cost of management.

Employ management options.

To make sure the damage is in fact from a rabbit, look for a 45-degree angle on upright stems. Tearing is most likely deer damage. Also, rabbit damage is never higher than 2.5 feet above ground. And look for the tell-tale pellets on the ground.

Short-term solutions: Taste repellents show better results than odor repellent. Whatever you try on vegetables, be sure to read the label to be sure it can be used on vegetables.

It is legal to trap rabbits. But what do you do with the rabbit you’ve humanely trapped? You can relocate it, with permission. This is usually ineffective due to the reproduction strategy of rabbits. There can be 30-36 young per year. Before trapping, consult the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at go.osu.edu/Trapping.

Longer-term solutions: Habitat modification can work, but it is not easy. Rabbits can survive just in the summer growth of grass and weeds, or in your perennial beds. Try to remove potential shelter, though, by clearing brush piles, cutting down tall dense grasses and removing stone piles.

Exclusion is best accomplished by fencing. Bury the fence 6-8 inches into ground. Make it 2 feet tall and use wire mesh with 1 inch or smaller squares.

To read more, visit go.osu.edu/Rabbits. For landscape plants less bothered by rabbits, visit go.osu.edu/RabbitProof.

Eric Barrett is the OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Mahoning County office in Canfield.

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