MILAN, Italy – Make like bunnies! The wild hares at Milan's Linate Airport have taken that to heart — so much so that officials on Sunday mounted an unusual operation to keep the furry creatures off the runways.
Some 200 volunteers with reflective vests and whistles snared 57 hares and four wild rabbits, part of a twice-annual capture to keep the airport hare population under control.
The animals were put in wooden crates and transferred to a nearby wildlife preserve, officials said.
The province of Milan has to routinely catch the fertile hares because they interfere with takeoffs and landings, They can also cause false alarms with the airport's radar system, said Nicoletta Angioni, spokeswoman for SEA, the company that operates Milan's airports.
"There are always hares at the airport, the problem is that lately there were too many, and they cause problems with the radar and sensors that monitor the airport," she said in a telephone interview.
Usually the hare hunt takes place overnight, when the airport's runways aren't terribly busy. But because there were so many hares this season, officials mounted a daylight capture so volunteers could better catch their bounding prey.
Blowing whistles and waving their arms frantically, the volunteers spooked the hares out of their holes and into nets erected around the airport.
Linate, which is Milan's second airport next to Malpensa, reopened after a few hours at 8 a.m.