July 28, 2010 · Updated 6:09 AM
Here are news reports from KOMO-4 News and Q13 News of the public meeting Tuesday at Mullis Community Senior Center regarding the National Park Service's plan to remove the rabbits from American Camp.
While tempers flared at the meeting to collect public comment on two possible plans -- resident Linda Blue stepped in as mediator -- some possible alternatives did emerge. Sandi Ackerman of Rabbit Meadows Feral Rabbit Sanctuary in Seattle said the rabbits could be captured, neutered and released back into the wild; or captured, neutered and relocated to the sanctuary.
The National Park Service says the rabbits, which were introduced to the island as a food source in the late 1800s, prevent native grasses from flourishing on the prairie, which in turn destroys habitat for sensitive species such as the Island Marble butterfly. The butterfly was believed to have been extinct until its re-discovery on the prairie in 1998. The butterfly has disappeared from Canada's Gulf Islands, its habitat destroyed by grazing.
National Park officials say rabbit burrows are threatening cultural resources like the redoubt, a fortification built by U.S. troops during the joint military occupation of 1859-1872.
Opponents of the plan say the rabbits' removal will disturb the ecosystem that is in place now, and would remove a food source for eagles and foxes.
A full story will be posted later this morning.