From the City of Seattle monthly tree newsletter:
Have you been seeing rabbits hopping around your neighborhood? You are not alone! Seattle’s rabbit population is booming. What does this mean for trees? There is a possibility that rabbits will gnaw the bark on the lower trunk of young trees. Rabbit chewing can weaken or kill your tree depending on the extent of damage and the health of your tree.
The best way to protect your tree is to put up a physical barrier that prevents the rabbit from getting to the trunk. An ideal barrier would be a hard fencing material that still lets light and air through like chicken wire or a rigid plastic mesh.
Caution: the material should not be in direct contact with the trunk. This fencing should be 2-3 feet high. Once your tree gets older and the bark is thicker the protection can be removed. Be sure to check often to make sure whatever protection you put up is not causing a wound to the tree.
Did you know?
Rabbits shift their diet depending on the season. Spring to fall their diet consists of grass, wild flowers, weeds, and farm and garden crops. In winter they shift to buds, twigs, bark, conifer needles, and practically any green plant.