NH Fish & Game proposes Jackalope hunting season.

Anti-hunting groups get horned up over jackalope hunting proposal.

Activists are in an uproar after the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department announced plans to move forward with a controlled hunting season on the cryptic Leporidae species commonly known as the “Jackalope”.

Mark Greenwood, the state’s jackalope biologist stated the season proposal comes after 12 years of studies and research. “We’ve been closely studying the jackalope populations for several years, and have found the populations rebounded enough that they are now exceeding their traditional home ranges.” This process, a sign of healthy populations, is a concept known to biologists and conservationists as carrying capacity.

The Jackalope is a species of ungulate hare which is believed to be a hybrid of both rabbits, and western antelope. Scientists theorize that the reduction in cotton tail rabbits in the Northeast prompted western rabbits to begin migrating east, and in the process, interbred with grazing antelope, to create the hybridized species we know today.

“We obviously don’t want to stress the jackalope population, but we have reached the end of our 2.2 million dollar budget for studies, and it’s time for more data through hunting harvests” says Greenwood, who has received countless letters and phone calls since the proposal was made public. Some people, however, don’t quite see eye to eye with the department’s science.

Carol Scherer, a marine botanist who spent decades studying the horned hares in their native terrain of Wyoming, feels there’s misinformation about the ecology of jackalopes. “It’s been scientifically proven that jackalopes have developed a process called “responsive reproduction”, where if a few hares in a given jackalope pack are killed, they will breed more rapidly to promote population expansion”. Scherer continues “the best course of action to reduce a jackalope pandemic, would be to let them take care of their own populations with no management or studies; they’ll figure it out on their own somehow.”

Brenda Gouleski, president of an advocacy group calling itself the Jackalope Opposition to Killing and Eating (or J.O.K.E.), echoed Ms. Scherer’s concerns. “I don’t really know anything about jackalopes” stated Gouleski, “but I do know that I don’t like hunters, and there are only 500 jackalope hunters in NH, so I find it offensive that the NHFG Department would listen to them.” The NH chapter of JOKE organized an online petition in opposition to the season proposal, which has garnered over 200 signatures, mostly from people living in Massachusetts and California.

“We don’t have hunting seasons on snails and hermit crabs, and these species seem to do just fine” says Gouleski proudly. “Plus, it has been scientifically proven that NH Jackalopes are carriers of ticks. One adult jackalope can have 3-4 ticks feeding on its body at any given time, which means that’s four ticks that won’t feed on other creatures at that same time, so given this important information any reasonable person can clearly see that jackalopes are a keystone species.”

A recent social media post from NH-J.O.K.E. who plans to protest the Jackalope hunting season outside NHFG's Concord headquarters.

Brenda’s group has also planned a protest outside the Department’s headquarters on Easter Sunday, where they will stand with images showing hunted jackalopes, and dress up in custom-made furry jackalope costumes. “It’s bad enough these people are hunting and eating these beautiful creatures, but they also want to use the fur from these rabbits for clothing! I can’t believe anyone would be so cruel as to wear the fur from an animal they just ate, its psychotic” says Gouleski.

Martin Jennison, a farmer in the Concord area, says he’s actually eager for a jackalope season to open up. “They're clearly on the rise, I see 10-20 of those rascals per day in my field, and the burrows they dig up leads to severe and fatal injuries for my cattle.”

William Crowley, an avid jackalope hunter, also agrees a season is long overdue. “Look, the science has proven the limited harvest proposed would have no impact on the overall health of the population, plus they taste great in a stew.” Crowley proudly showed off his mounted jackalopes from repeated trips out west where hunting is currently legal. Crowley has already began growing carrots and potatoes in his garden, in anticipation of the season becoming legal with no restrictions on baiting.

Mrs. Scherer, however, has an answer for landowners like Mr. Jennison; one that can remedy any and all problems with jackalope conflict in a non-lethal fashion. “Banging pots and pans together in your field first thing in the morning can scare away unwanted jackalopes” says Scherer. “If all else fails, it’s been scientifically proven this species of hares likes to graze on grasslands – if you don’t want an overabundance of horned hares, simply don’t own land; problem solved!” Scherer also has reservations about motives for hunting jackalope. “I’ve never eaten one, and I wouldn’t want to, so by proxy, neither should anyone else.”

Shown is a historic Jackalope hunting permit from Wyoming, where Jackalope hunting is currently permited today with limited criticism (public domain image).

Brenda Gouleski’s group also agrees with non-lethal alternatives. "If you don't grow grass in your yard, you won't have jackalopes" says Gouleski. "Our group is promoting cement lawn alternatives". She adds, “We’ve also had great luck with installing jackalope diversion pipes in fields where they have become a problem, and it was proven that 75% of jackalope issues were resolved within 35 years of pipe installation.” The pipes JOKE promotes typically cost $2-3,000 dollars for installation, and require regular maintenance from a professional, but the group states on their website that a grant is available from Jackalope Pipes International which can offer up to $3.00 off per pipe for pre-qualified landowners.

Richard Cranium, a legislator in New Hampshire’s Senate, feels the timing of the proposed jackalope season is politically inconvenient. “We have received hundreds of phone calls from the same 8 people screaming about protecting jackalopes, and as politicians, we don’t feel this is good timing for hunting horned rabbits – it’s an election year for God’s sake.” When asked about the 2 million dollar study, and increase in nuisance calls for jackalope conflict, Senator Cranium was quick to retort. “I haven’t read any of the studies or talked to any of the state’s certified biologists. I did speak to a fellow who used to write for the local newspaper with well-known articles about collecting acorns, and he thinks this proposal is a bad idea.”

Senator Cranium did allude to his feelings on hunting. “I hunted a squirrel once, my father owned a gun and fly-fished for trout 40 years ago, I’m not against all hunting, I just don’t like the less popular types of hunting. I don’t understand why these people can’t just go shoot a partridge – its way less controversial in the media.”

Written comments on the proposed Jackalope season will be accepted through April 1st (April Fool's Day). The season dates, which will likely take place during November and December, will be announced shortly after the approval process is completed.

A jackalope mount from William Crowley's collection. Crowley is supporting the NHFG Department's proposal to open a limited jackalope hunting season to help manage and gather future data on the cryptic hybrid species (public domain image).

Editor's note: The above article is meant and written as satire in observance of April Fool's Day 2018, and should not be taken as fact of actual current events.