Top | Sift

The rabbit wars

(article, Culinate staff)

Camas Davis is the founder of the Portland Meat Collective, a resource for folks interested in DIY butchery. (She's also a Culinate contributor.) In the current issue of Oregon Humanities magazine, she's written a thoughtful essay about a battle over rabbits.

See, Davis runs a class in rabbit butchery. In January, the rabbits that were being raised for the class were abducted the night before, and their newborn babies left to die in the cold. But the thieves weren't out to get meat for free; rather, they were rescuing the rabbits from impending slaughter.

Reactions to the incident varied widely, from shock at the theft (and the death of the baby bunnies) to satisfaction that a group of Thumpers had been saved. As Davis noted, commenters on her website were generally extremist; very few "openly grappled with their contradictory feelings" about meat and animals. The vitriol became so caustic that Davis, frustrated by the lack of real dialogue about the topic, closed comments on her website.

Strangest of all, though, were the negotiations between the rabbit raisers and the rabbit stealers/liberators. The rabbit-advocacy group that wound up with the bunnies offered $1,500 to keep the animals; the rabbit raisers responded by asking first for the return of the animals and second for their usual market rate of $15 to $20 per rabbit.

In the end, all of the rabbits were returned, with one exception. That bunny was kept by his new foster mother in exchange for a $1,000 donation that went to a Haitian charity:

bq. Everyone was happy. Especially the Haitians, who will benefit from a new program, seeded by the $1,000 donation, that teaches them how to raise rabbits — the cheapest and easiest animal protein one could raise in the world — for food.