SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the snow piles up, a certain long-eared animal is causing problems for homeowners.

This winter, with grass and plants buried by snow, rabbits have fewer food options. Unfortunately for homeowners, tree bark is now on the menu.

“They can’t get to any other food so they’re taking off anything that they can find,” Oakridge Nursery & Landscaping owner Daemon Coughlin said.

Daemon Coughlin owns Oakridge Nursery in Brandon and says rabbits often target sweet tasting trees.

“They’ll go after fruit trees, flowering crabs are kind of their favorites and any of those younger trees. Usually, if you get an older, mature tree they’re not going to bother it as bad,” Coughlin said.

“In our backyard we have a burning bush and definitely noticed some rabbits chewing around the bark,” Sioux Falls resident Mary Wiese said.

Mary Wiese lives on the east side of Sioux Falls and uses chicken wire to protect the woody shrub.

“With the snowfall they were above that so I just pushed away the snow so they wouldn’t have a platform to stand on,” Wiese said.

The amount of damage caused by a rabbit is key when it comes to a tree’s survival.

“If they girdle or they chew the bark all the way around, that doesn’t leave any space for water and nutrients to get up to the top of the tree so that will kill the tree off,” Coughlin said.

But if you can limit the damage…

“One side, the tree will heal itself, just try to keep the rabbits off the existing side so either get some wire around it or a tree protector,” Coughlin said.

And eventually Mother Nature will melt some snow.

Coughlin recommends wrapping your trees with a plastic sleeve or wire every winter to protect against a variety of animals, including rabbits and deer.