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Hundreds Turn Out For Klamath County Rabbit Drive

More than 100 people armed with clubs joined a rabbit drive in April 1916 near the Oregon-California state line south of Klamath Falls, Ore.  The Evening Herald newspaper reported the next day that 286 “bunnies” were slain.

Desert rabbit drives had been around for a long time.  One government study reported that 305 drives between 1875 and 1896 in the Western United States had killed 635,546 rabbits.

Author E. R. Jackman writes in his and R.L. Long’s book titled The Oregon Desert that the Harney County Court once tried posting a 5-cent bounty on jackrabbits, but dropped the idea after paying $51,459.10 in a single year for 1,029,182 dead rabbits. 

Jackman says that homesteaders fed up with jackrabbits eating up their gardens, flowers, and fields of dryland grain, “would get together, form a huge crescent and drive the jacks in front of them into some predetermined spot with close-mesh wire on three sides,” where they would club to death from 2,000 to 5,000 jackrabbits.

Jackman adds, “Dogs and boys enjoyed it, the neighbors had the pleasant feeling of cooperation for the benefit of all, the women served hot coffee and sandwiches, and everyone felt good about it except the jacks.”


Sources:  Jackman, E R., and R. A. Long. The Oregon Desert. Second ed. Caldwell, Idaho: the Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1964. 195-96. Print;  "Rabbit drives and hunts." Experiment Station Record 10. United States. Office of Experiment Stations, United States Agricultural Research Service (1891): 25. Web. 11 Apr. 2016; "Hundreds Turn Out for Rabbit Drive." Evening Herald 10 Apr. 1916 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] . Print.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.