By Kevin Deutsch
Authorities are searching for the person or persons who shot metal darts into two marsh rabbits in Parkland, killing one and causing facial injuries to another.
A group of Parkland residents found the surviving bunny Sunday with the dart trapped in its face, the weapon having entered through one side of its mouth and exited through the other.
The animal-loving rescuers, led by resident Misty Rice-Baniewicz, removed the dart and humanely trapped the rabbit, brought to the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“It has been living with this metal object through its face for weeks because it had been mistaken as a flower in the rabbit’s mouth,” Rice-Baniewicz wrote in a Facebook post about the attack.
Once at the wildlife center, the bunny was given x-rays and treated with antibiotics, fluids, and pain medication, along with plenty of rest and relaxation, said Christel Fiddyment, clinic supervisor at the wildlife center, which cares for injured and orphaned wildlife.
The rabbit has since been released from the center’s intensive care unit and, by Friday evening, was playing in an outdoor habitat area.
“After a few stressful days, he’s been hopping around, he’s been eating, and he’ll be able to go back [for release in Rice-Baniewicz’s yard] Monday if everything goes well,” Fiddyment said.
Marsh rabbits are native to Florida and live in yards and natural areas throughout Parkland. They are part of the cottontail family and are high-stress animals, known to freeze when confronted with humans, Fiddyment said.
They should not be captured and relocated by humans since areas like Parkland make up their natural habitat.
“It’s really cruel what happened to these animals,” Fiddyment said of the arrow attacks.
Of the surviving rabbit, she said: “He probably stood in one place, terrified, and someone shot him in the face. Thankfully that injury didn’t kill him, and….he’s able to function.”
The rabbit who died was shot in its leg and never brought to the wildlife center, Fiddyment said. It likely died of shock with the dart in its body.
“I just really hope they find out who did this,” she said.
Rice-Baniewicz urged anyone who has information “regarding the responsible person(s) that is going around and recklessly and carelessly killing and injuring innocent wildlife” to contact Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Robert Rutkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The community is outraged here in Parkland….let’s make sure no additional innocent, harmless animals need to carelessly suffer,” Rice-Baniewicz wrote.
Donations to the South Florida Wildlife Center can be made via the non-profit organization’s web page.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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