Daily Journey Journal #297: ecological balance

From March 20, 2015

Do you remember in high school biology when you talked about an ecosystem being balanced? How every living thing in the ecosystem had a part to play? Without just one creature, the whole system can be thrown out of balance or undergo serious changes.

Right now in Laramie, our ecosystem is in the midst of a major imbalance in the form of bunnies. A prolific number of bunnies. How this explosion of bunnies came to be is really a rather sad story.

Several years ago, many of the foxes in the area contracted a highly contagious and fatal disease. The foxes that did not immediately die from the disease were either killed or removed from the area in order to stop the spread of the illness. Foxes, being the biggest predator to the bunnies in our ecosystem, were key to the balance. Without them, the population of bunnies has multiplied astronomically.

On snowy mornings, yards, driveways and sidewalks are a maze of bunny trails. Some days when walking to work, I see more bunnies than people. They are everywhere.

Everyone in town seems to have unofficially adopted a bunny or two or three in their backyards, including us. Our bunnies are named Edwina and Albert. Sometimes they have their buddies over, but most days, it is just Edwina nibbling in the small patch of grass close to the house, and Albert being confused by my car parked off the alley. Edwina is really chubby and is lazy about hiding, her laid back ears and low crouch doing little to hide her in the flat grass. Albert is skitterish and hops around frantically anytime we come near.

While I miss the foxes and their rare sightings, I am enjoying our little friends. It does make me wonder though, how long will it be until the foxes return? Will they return or are we destine to be a bunny haven for the foreseeable future?


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