Volunteers who showed up at a state mental health facility in Las Vegas over the weekend to help care for wild rabbits that roam the grounds came across a disturbing sight: about 50 dead rabbits, reports the AP. The volunteers also found vegetables they suspect were coated in antifreeze, and they've sent the veggies and some of the carcasses out for testing to confirm their hunch that the animals were poisoned. Who would have done just a thing? The founder of one rabbit rescue group is casting a suspicious eye toward the state, because the deaths came just two days after health officials posted warnings at the site that the rabbits pose a risk of transmitting disease to humans. "It's too much of a coincidence for me," she tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The head of another rescue group says it's never had a rabbit test positive for rabies or other diseases.
A rep for the state Department of Health and Human Services says the agency had no role in the deaths. National Geographic provides background on how the rabbit population, estimated to be about 1,000, came to be at the site: It seems that several years ago, staffers at the Desert Willow Treatment Center released pair of pet rabbits on the grounds, thinking they'd be therapeutic and fun for young patients. The rabbits mated, and things have since gotten a little out of control; volunteers have not only been collecting rabbits and trying to find them homes but working to build a sanctuary where most could be relocated. A volunteer who remained at the site Sunday night after the deaths were discovered says someone drove up and deposited lettuce coated in what appeared to be antifreeze. (This pet bunny inadvertently became a narc.)