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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Italy airport set for hare hunt
A hare (file image)
The hares pose a risk to flights landing and taking off
Milan's Linate airport is to close for several hours on Sunday to allow a squad of hare hunters to capture the animals invading its runways.

Authorities say at least 80 hares live in the airport area and their frequent escapades are putting flights at risk.

Hares bounding across the runway confuse radar equipment and are hazardous during take-off and landing.

In the last two weeks alone, two hares have been caught up in the wheels of tourist craft, Italian media report.

"There is a risk that these hares will cause a serious accident during the take-off and landing phases," Alberto Grancini, in charge of security for the region, told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

Netting operation

Although the hare-clearing operation is an annual event, this is the first time the airport has actually been closed.

"This year, due to an unusual increase in the number of hares who live on the edge of the airport, we have had to organise an exceptional hunt which involves closing the airport," Milan county council said in a statement.

The airport will close for three hours, between dawn and 0800 (0600 GMT), on Sunday.

In preparation for the hunt the aircraft parking area will be fenced in, with no less than four kilometres (2.5 miles) of netting to prevent rabbits straying.

Once captured, the hares will be taken in special wooden containers to nearby protected zones where hunting is banned.

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