Rabbits are getting out of control in Albert Town, locals say.
Albert Town Community Association committee member Bruce Hebbard said there had been an increase in rabbit populations in many areas around the town.
Rabbits were proliferating in land along the south side of the Clutha River upstream of the Albert Town Bridge, in land by Wicklow Tce downstream of the bridge and in Templeton Park Reserve by the Upper Clutha River track, he said.
Mr Hebbard said rabbits were also a problem at the Albert Town lagoon, and the community association had to fence off recent native plantings there.
Mr Hebbard said he had been communicating with both the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council since 2015 but there seemed to have been little success in addressing the problem.
Along Wicklow Tce ‘‘anything from 10 to 30 rabbits’’ could be seen at different times, Mr Hebbard said.
He thought the site where most of the rabbits were was in the 2ha Templeton Park Reserve
— ‘‘that is where they are living’’.
‘‘The last time I was here they were uncountable because there were so many.’’
He had suggested a night shoot in the reserve might be successful, or using poison while sealing off burrows.
Otago Regional Council manager biosecurity and rural liaison Andrea Howard said a member of the council’s biosecurity team recently met with a representative from the Albert Town Community Association and staff would shortly return to the area to undertake formal inspections using the rabbit management rules set out in ORC’s Regional Pest Management Plan.
‘‘If areas of non-compliance are observed, we will engage with landowners to identify solutions.’’
Where rules had been breached and voluntary compliance was not possible, the council would take enforcement action.
The council was in the process of recruiting several new biosecurity staff for Central Otago, with two of these roles being focused solely on undertaking inspections and providing education to landowners on rabbit control options, she said.
‘‘We will also continue to work with our communities to facilitate rabbit management solutions.’’
The council was working successfully with a number of landowner groups in Central Otago to resolve rabbit issues, and planned to increase that support in the coming months, Ms Howard said.