Agriculture Department to Magician: You Need a License for That Rabbit

Marty Hahne, 54, known as Marty the Magician in the southern Missouri area where he performs magic, pulls a rabbit out of his “elusive bunny box,” or a hat, or a picnic basket, or even a tiny library, as the finale to his act. But the Agriculture Department of the Obama Administration decided that in order to do so, he needed an official U.S. government license, which meant that he had to write a disaster plan for his bunny.

A law that was intended to regulate zoos and circuses was used to force Hahne to comply with its regulations. As late as 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, the Agriculture Department was maintaining that the rule should be applied to Hahne; one spokeswoman lauded its “flexibility,” asserting that the law could even be applied to something as simple as a magician and a rabbit.

But after a Washington Post article was posted online that told of Hahne’s predicament, things changed quickly. By 9:30 p.m., department spokeswoman Courtney Rowe e-mailed a message saying, “ Secretary Tom Vilsack  asked that this be reviewed immediately and common sense be applied.” Even though only 4 hours earlier the Departmenet’s position had been quite different, Rowe added that Vilsack had ordered the review “earlier this week.”

Hahne listed a few disasters that could harm him and his bunny:  “Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures.” He added, “Our country’s broke. And yet they have money and time to harass somebody about a rabbit.”


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