Denver Airport Parking Lot Invaded by Rabbits

The animals are causing hundreds, thousands of dollars worth of damage to vehicles.

By Justin Ray
|  Saturday, Feb 16, 2013  |  Updated 5:43 AM EDT
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The rabbits are looking for food and warmth from cars in the lot.

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Unfortunately for the security at Denver International Airport, furry troublemakers are invading their large parking lot.

Officials with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services in the Denver area claim that rabbits are chewing wires under the hoods of cars, according to the Los Angeles Times. The animals are causing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in damage.

Although officials have been removing 100 rabbits from the area every month, the damage continues. The persistent presence of rabbits can be attributed to the fact that the airport is surrounded by a prairie and the rabbits look to the vehicles for warmth and food.

"They come to the recently driven cars for warmth, and once they're there, they find that many of the materials used for coating ignition cables are soy-based, and the rabbits find that quite tasty," Wiley Faris, a spokesman for the nearby Arapahoe Autotek repair center, said.

Apparently nearby apartment buildings have also been complaining about the animals. "A lot of people have called us," Faris said. "They return to their cars and either they won't start or they don't run well because the wires are all chewed up."

The perpetrators were identified by fur and pellets they left behind.
 
The damage the rabbits cause can be very serious due to repair costs that can run into the thousands and are often not covered by insurance. Airport officials also say parking permits specify that they are not responsible for damages, putting the burden on the driver.

"I see at least dozens every morning. They go hide under the cars, and the cars are warm," airport shuttle driver Michelle Anderson told CBS Denver.

Although the rabbits have caused problems, officials have only received a handful of complaints according to Laura Coale, a spokeswoman for the airport.

"We have 53 square miles of land," she said. "We had 4.3 million parking transactions in 2012, and we only received three claims. People are not coming to us. They go to the newspaper and say their damage happened here. Why here, versus any other place in Colorado?"

Officials are exploring ways to help solve the problem, including fencing, perches for hawks and eagles, and even coating wires with coyote urine.

"Predator urine is a good deterrent," Faris said. "Either coyotes or foxes. And you can pick it up at any professional hunting shop. That stuff can take care of the critter damage pretty quick."

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