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Sweden's furry, alternative fuel source: Burning bunnies

October 20, 2009 |  1:09 pm


The scientific community and political realm have kicked around the possibilities of solar, wind, wave, nuclear and a smattering of other abundant resources as alternatives to fossil fuels.

But here's one that must have slipped their minds: bunnies.

Sweden was ahead of the game, though. Thousands of rabbit bodies have been shipped from Stockholm to a plant in central Sweden. There the carcasses are burned as fuel to provide heat for homes.

Stockholm authorities say rabbit overpopulation is a rampant problem, according to a report by Sweden's The Local, which we found courtesy of Live Science. Contributing to that problem is pet owners' releasing their domesticated rabbits.

Stockholm Traffic Office spokesman Tommy Tuvunger told Sweden's Vart Kungsholmen newspaper that owners looking to be free of the troubles of rabbit ownership simply "put the animals outside. They think: 'there they can play with the other rabbits'." 

The reality of the situation isn't that simple or sweet; the newly freed rabbits reproduce, well, like rabbits, compounding Stockholm's bunny population problem. The Local explains what happens next:

Animal control authorities employ a special rifle to shoot the excess rabbits, with most of the culling taking place at dawn when the animals peek out from their holes.

The city usually steps up its rabbit hunting efforts in the autumn as leaves begin to fall from bushes and trees, making it easier to see the rabbits.

Of course, rabbit lovers and animal rights activists don't look kindly on the use of rabbits as biofuel. According to Anna Johannesson of Sweden's Society for the Protection of Wild Rabbits, "It feels like they’re trying to turn the animals into an industry rather than look at the main problem."

As for us, we're undecided -- would we rather spend nights clutching an extra blanket or bask in the warmth provided by a fiery former bunny? The mind reels.

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-- Mark Milian

Photo: Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times

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