By Joe Julian, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Horticulture
Most people find feeding wildlife irresistible. But the cute little bunnies that this habit attracts to your neighborhood can wreck havoc on ornamental trees and shrubs. Rabbits will feed on many plants and they like chewing on the bark of small trees and shrubs. If your juniper shrubs are dead or dying, it may be because they are being damaged by rabbits.
To discourage this, try placing a rubber hose on the ground; it may fool the rabbits into thinking it's a snake. Another trick: A large clear glass of water reflects a larger rabbit and scares the cottontail away. Because the water will freeze during the winter months, it will need to be changed daily. The trunks of trees and shrubs can be protected by creating a barrier with fencing materials (see above).
This situation, however, illustrates the reason we should not feed wildlife. Our animal friends become dependent upon the domestic food source and, if you stop in mid-winter, they likely will be unable to forage for themselves and may starve. The best plan of action would be to taper off feeding as spring approaches, then stop altogether and not begin again.
Photo: Judy Sedbrook
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010