Its collective tongue firmly planted in its cheek, the Defenders of Wildlife has told President Carter that if he encounters another rabbit trying to swim aboard his fishing canoe, he ought to "stand up, wave arms and yell 'shoo!'

Unveiling its "seven-point program to improve the government's senstivity to wildlife and set the pace for enlightened, non-lethal policies on predators, including rabbits," the wildlife group urged that in the future presidential canoes "be equipped with padded paddles to avoid injuring the frightening, but otherwise harmless, rabbits."

The environmental group made its suggestions in the wake of reports from White House aides -- sometimes in a humorous vein -- that Carter swung a paddle "for his life" against a menacing rabbit that dared to approach Canoe One when the president was fishing on a pond near his Georgia home last spring. Carter later said that he splashed the rabbit, but that there was no attack by either him or the bunny.

In a letter to Carter, Defenders of Wildlife official Toby Cooper suggested that one way to warn rabbits away was to "sound bells, rattle pots and pans or play recordings of feeding calls of hawks and owls."

But if that didn't work, Cooper said that the president's party should keep moving as the rabbits' boldness may increase if they become accoustomed to the frightening devices. The president might also want to be accompanied by a wildlife adviser "who can provide up-to-the-minute information on approaching creatures."

To help Carter avoid further encounters with the furry beasts, the Defenders also adminished him to "remove lettuce, radishes and, of course, carrots from all bag lunches."