Two Iowa freshmen suspended indefinitely for campus rabbit hunt
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two Iowa wrestlers were suspended from the team Wednesday after police said they admitted to illegally hunting rabbits in hopes of making rabbit-skin caps.
Police said Alex Meyer and Connor Ryan, both freshmen, were arrested Tuesday after they inadvertently caused a campus security scare. A security officer saw two men, including one with a long gun, near the nursing building, and officers were sent to search the area.
University police considered activating its Hawk Alert System - which blasts students and employees with text messages and recorded calls to warn of emergencies - but declined after officers could not confirm a report of a man with a gun, associate director of public safety David Visin said.
Officers later found the two wrestlers in Hillcrest Residence Hall and discovered rabbit skins in Meyer's dormitory.
Meyer and Ryan each admitted to hunting with friends on campus using air rifles, which typically discharge pellets or BBs. Each explained that they went hunting Saturday and again Tuesday because they wanted ''to make hats,'' according to criminal complaints filed against them.
They killed an unspecified number of rabbits and police seized at least two air rifles, which are not allowed on campus, Visin said.
Meyer and Ryan were both charged with violating a municipal code by discharging air rifles within city limits, a simple misdemeanor punishable with anywhere from a $65 fine to 30 days in jail; and cited for violating a state law that bans hunting after dark, which carries a $93 fine. Meyer was also cited for hunting without a license, a $100 infraction.
Athletic director Gary Barta said the wrestlers were suspended indefinitely and will face potential disciplinary action under conduct codes for students and athletes. Further information about their status will not be released ''until a definitive outcome is realized,'' he said.
State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mick Klemesrud said rabbit hunting season runs from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 and the sport is most common in the pastures and timbers of southern Iowa. He said the sport has long helped introduce kids to hunting, but has declined significantly in popularity in recent years.
Klemesrud said the wrestlers could have found a place to legally hunt rabbits at several wildlife areas near Iowa City.
''If they want to hunt rabbits, they can come out to the countryside, either knock on doors and ask for permission to go on private land or come to our public areas,'' he said. ''But you can't hunt in town.''