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Probe: September 26, 2001

September 26, 2001

QUESTION: I have 20 or 30 cottontail rabbits living under my house and I don't know what to do about it. I think they got under there through the cellar. The cellar door is tight but there is a little hole they squeeze through.

I have cats, a gopher snake and a dog but none does anything to dent the rabbit population. A gopher snake can eat about one rabbit a month. The cats ignore the rabbits. I think the dog showed them the way to the cellar.

I can't put out poison. They might die under the house and stink. I couldn't shoot them or put out traps. How can I rid myself of these pesky rabbits? — Plagued, Imperial

If you're not going to trap, poison or shoot the rabbits, you're going to have to accept them as tenants. Those are the only three methods we know of to get rid of those fluffy rodents.

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Eric Natwick of the University of California-Imperial County Extension Service agreed.

It could be worse. You could have an extended family of skunks under there.

Your dilemma just points out how comfortable Americans have become. In earlier times those rabbits would have been fried, baked or stewed long before they became a problem.

You know why the pigeons in European cities remain a romantic part of the ambiance and not a nuisance? The Europeans thin them out.

When Ernest Hemingway was a starving writer in Paris, he would sometimes capture an unwary pigeon for dinner.

You expect artists in Paris to be hungry. When the young Picasso was starving, the family cat dragged home a big sausage. Picasso and his friends wrested the sausage away from the cat and his mistress turned it into dinner for four people.

YOU ARE RIGHT — The suffix, "stan," tacked onto places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Buluchistan, Kurdistan or Turkistan means land or place. It comes from the Iranian root word "sta," which means "sta" and means "place where one stays."

It's interesting to note there is an identical word in Polish that means almost the same thing, state. — Helpful, El Centro

Thank you. When you're guessing, as we were, the sweetest words in the language (any language) are: "You're right."

As we write this, we are aware 2 million Afghans without food or water are clogging the roads en route to Pakistan to avoid the havoc they expect war will wreak on their land. At least 6,000 will die before they reach the Pakistan border.

NOT PACIFIED — I refuse to be pacified by PROBE's lack of concern about the danger of living among people who may be terrorists. We have to be vigilant! — Concerned, El Centro

Sorry, but we refuse to join in the drum beat of those trying to scare us to death. We just don't see any danger in Imperial County.

If we lived in an urban center, we might worry about our freeway system, or we might avoid riding a subway. Japanese terrorists released a toxic nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system. It killed 12 people and made hundreds sick. We don't have a subway system around here.

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