Wabbit Season Turns Into Duck Season at North Dakota State

July 19, 2007

If Elmer Fudd goes off to college, he had better leave the campus’s wascally wabbits alone.

Such was the lesson learned at North Dakota State University on Wednesday, as police officers stormed the campus in response to reports of a man pointing a rifle out the window of a vehicle on a campus road.

As a local newspaper, The Forum, reported today, the gunman turned out to be Wayne Larson, a maintenance worker taking part in a university-sanctioned rabbit shoot.

For more than a dozen years, the university has sent its maintenance workers out with pellet guns to control its rabbit population. Mr. Larson was just obeying orders — and had the blessing of North Dakota State’s police and safety inspector, Ray Boyer — when he set out on Wednesday morning to bag the varmints.

Understandably, a woman who saw the rifle sticking out of his vehicle immediately dialed 911. Dozens of officers from the Fargo Police Department responded by rushing to the campus and blocking traffic as they searched for the gunman.

After about 90 minutes, they figured out who the gunman was, and university officials sent out an e-mail alert giving the campus the all-clear.

For the time being, at least, the rabbits are safe too. The university has decided to end its practice of limiting their population by shooting them.

No word yet on whether the university’s cafeteria will have hasenpfeffer on the menu. —Peter Schmidt