Three West High students have been punished after one of them set up a trap to catch rabbits in the school's community garden.
The trap inadvertently caught a cat and then a rabbit, and both died while struggling to get free, said Principal Dave Cobb.
"At first we thought it was a malicious act," he said.
The school called Billings Animal Control and West High's student resource officer began an investigation.
Cobb had heard some students talking about possibly building traps to catch the rabbits that sometimes appeared in the garden. He tracked those students down and discovered that's what they had done.
"One of the kids took it upon himself to try and catch the rabbit," Cobb said.
Animal Control issued no citations as the students had not intended to kill any animals. But the officials there told the school to use the incident as a "teaching moment," Cobb said.
So the three boys involved will perform community service at the city's animal shelter.