‘Rabbits have absolutely exploded’

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

Some Teviot Valley gardeners are under siege by waves of fearless rabbits attacking vegetable patches, new lawns and flower beds.

Graeme and Christine Young have nearly a hectare of garden near Millers Flat and have been struggling against the invasion since they moved in a year ago.

“The locals are saying it is as bad as it has ever been,” Mr Young said.

Every morning they find holes dug in their gardens, plants eaten, and groups congregating on the lawn.

“It is frustrating as they make such a mess overnight.”

When clearing overgrown vegetation they found a bank riddled with burrows, which could cause it to eventually slip.

The rabbits have prevented them from planting a vegetable garden.

In addition to trapping 31 possums on his property in the past year, he has been using Pindone poison in bait stations, but he did not think it was having any impact.

“You can’t shoot them as we are too close to the cycle trail and they know they are safe there.”

Mrs Young said there were two ferrets living in their woodpile.

However, as well as rabbits, the ferrets also liked quail eggs and native birds.

Gold cycle trail, alongside their property, was a “highway to heaven” for rabbits, as it made it easier for them to move about.

“We sometimes cycle along the trail and sometimes see five or six in front, and some will scatter and others will just sit and watch you.”

Mrs Young said the cycle trail was a “shopping mall for rabbits.”

“They go along, looking at gardens on the side of [the] trail, thinking they will have a bit of this and a bit of that.

“Half the problem with a wee community is we [have] got lots of houses with very few permanent residents.”

She said rabbit control needed to be done as a community.

“One person can’t do it all as it just won’t work.”

Millers Flat resident Forbes Knight regularly sees groups of rabbits on his property or in the neighbouring reserve and on the sports grounds.

“I look after the rugby grounds and took me three-and-a-half barrowloads to fill rabbit holes before they could play seven-a-side a few weeks ago.”

John and Julie Asher have 1.2ha of gardens near Millers Flat and in the five years they have been there, they have never seen so many rabbits causing so much damage.

“The rabbits have absolutely exploded,” Mrs Asher said.

She said she walked her dog on the cycle trail and often went past the green waste dump site.

“The whole ground moves when you walk through it.”

She would like to see some kind of centralised agency managing rabbit control.

“We have 10 acres [4.05ha] and our neighbours have a massive property.

“We are equally responsible for it [rabbit control] but our resources are significantly different.

“I don’t know what the solution is.”