Friday, October 16, 2009

Bunny Biofuel

Stockholm, Sweden is killing wild rabbits and burning their bodies for fuel.

Every year Stockholm culls thousands from its wild rabbit population. Rabbits, of course, breed like drosophila. A breeding doe can produce a litter of 5 or 6 kits every month, and kits born in the spring may be reproducing by fall. Because there are no natural predators in the city, Stockholm ends up with thousands of new rabbits annually, and culls them throughout the year. The problem isn't so much in the summer, when food is plentiful, but in winter when the rabbits gnaw on anything they can find causing large amounts of damage.

The rabbits are killed by lagomorphic hit-men who shoot them at dawn (with silencers, so as not to wake the neighbors). Once killed the rabbits are frozen, and when the have been accumulated in large enough numbers, are shipped off to a biofuel plant in Karlskoga, where they are burned for fuel. They are not skinned for their fur before being burned. In 2008 six thousand rabbits were killed.

The city also ships off carcasses of other animals including cats, deer, horses, and cows.

The rabbits are not native to Sweden; they are descendants of pets that have been released by Stockholm residents.

Animal rights activists are up in arms about the practice, of course, but without natural predators the rabbit population grows to its Malthusian limits, and alternative solutions like spraying the plants are not effective (the rabbits just move to unsprayed locations), and ignore the effects of the pesticides on the city's non-bunny biota.

The residents whose houses are warmed by the rabbits don't seem to complain, but residents of Stockholm are of divided opinions.

This story was first reported in mid-August, but now the pan-European news media has picked up on it, so as you can see from the variety of sources below, it is now a widely discussed ethical issue.

The Local and again (photo)
Yahoo News Canada
Der Spiegel

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