By RYAN J. FOLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -Two University of Iowa wrestlers were suspended from the team Wednesday afterthey admitted to illegally hunting rabbits on campus in hopes of makingrabbit-skin caps, according to police.
AlexMeyer and Connor Ryan, both freshmen, were arrested Tuesday night after asecurity officer saw two men, including one with a long gun, near the nursingbuilding, according to an incident report. Officers later found the two inHillcrest Residence Hall and discovered rabbit skins in Meyer's dormitory.
Meyerand Ryan each admitted to hunting with friends on campus using air rifles,which typically discharge pellets or BBs. Each explained that they went huntingSaturday and again Tuesday because they wanted "to make hats,"according to criminal complaints filed against them.
Theykilled an unspecified number of rabbits and police seized at least two airrifles, which are not allowed on campus, associate director of public safetyDavid Visin said.
Meyerand Ryan were both charged with violating a municipal code by discharging airrifles within city limits, a simple misdemeanor punishable with anywhere from a$65 fine to 30 days in jail; and cited for violating a state law that banshunting after dark, which carries a $93 fine. Meyer was also cited for huntingwithout a license, a $100 infraction.
Athleticdirector Gary Barta said the wrestlers were suspended indefinitely and willface potential disciplinary action under conduct codes for students andathletes. Further information about their status will not be released"until a definitive outcome is realized."
Meyer isfrom the Des Moines suburb of Pleasant Hill and wrestles at 174 pounds,according to his team biography. He won the 170-pound state championship as asenior at Southeast Polk High School. Ryan wrestles at 141 and 149 and was afour-time state champion runner-up during his career at Bettendorf High School.
Neitherhas wrestled in a match so far this season for Iowa, which is 3-0 and ispreparing for a competition in Iowa City on Saturday.
Iowa hasa storied wrestling program, which has played a dominant role in the sportsince the 1970s. The Hawkeyes have won 23 of the last 38 NCAA championships andproduced a string of All-Americans and individual champions.
Meyer'smother, Lorna, said she had no details on her son's arrest. A message for Ryanon Wednesday morning wasn't returned.
StateDepartment of Natural Resources spokesman Mick Klemesrud said rabbit huntingseason runs from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 and the sport is most common in thepastures and timbers of southern Iowa. He said the sport has long helpedintroduce kids to hunting, but has declined significantly in popularity inrecent years.
Klemesrudsaid the wrestlers could have found a place to legally hunt rabbits at severalwildlife areas near Iowa City.
"Ifthey want to hunt rabbits, they can come out to the countryside, either knockon doors and ask for permission to go on private land or come to our publicareas," he said. "But you can't hunt in town."
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