Alberto Pellaschiar  /  AP
A hare is caged early Sunday after being captured on the Linate airport runway in Milan during a three-hour hunt. The airport was forced to close between 5 and 8 a.m. and 12 flights were rescheduled while 200 volunteers used nets to capture the hares and move them to a safe haven. More than 50 hares were caught.
updated 6/17/2007 2:36:57 PM ET 2007-06-17T18:36:57

Wild hares at Milan’s Linate airport seem to have only one thing on their mind, and their excessive mating and growing numbers have blocked takeoffs, landings and radar systems.

Officials on Sunday mounted a daylight raid to keep these furry creatures off the runways, part of a twice-annual capture to keep the airport population under control.

“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,” said Nicoletta Angioni, spokeswoman for SEA, the company that operates Milan’s airports.

Blowing whistles and waving their arms frantically, some 200 volunteers spooked the hares out of their holes and into waiting nets. The animals — 57 hares and four wild rabbits — were put in wooden crates and transferred to a wildlife preserve, officials said.

Usually the hare hunts 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.

The airport reopened after a hare delay of just a few hours.

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