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orchard Dr residents Barry and Nola Hambleton, Ralph and Lyn Porter, Pat McBreen and Dennis Matheson say rabbit numbers are higher than they have ever seen.

Nola Hambleton said they had been gradually taking over land and a floodbank on the north side of the Clutha River and were also crossing the road and taking over their gardens.
‘‘We’ve never had them in our houses before; they are covering our gardens and our driveways and footpaths.’’

She was especially concerned about rabbit droppings and they had to sweep their lawns and footpaths.
‘‘We’ve been sweeping it into the gutter — we’ve got nowhere else to sweep it — but it is all back there again the next day,’’ she said.

Dennis Matheson said his lawn had many large rabbit holes.
‘‘It is at the stage where to mow the lawns, the wheels of the lawnmower will drop down the holes — the holes are getting that big.’’

Pat McBreen said there were rabbits over the whole area of land that was part of the floodbank.
‘‘We used to be able to go for a walk, now it is ankle-breaking. You don’t know where you are going to stand, there are holes all over,’’ she said.

The land was administered by Land Information New Zealand and group manager biosecurity and biodiversity Megan Reid said it was a relatively small area adjoined by land owned and managed by others and, in those situations, it would carry out control where the adjoining landowner was also carrying out control.
‘‘It is generally inefficient to control a small area of Linz land only, as rabbits will quickly migrate back into the area.’’

The affected area was beside houses, with walking tracks for the public and their animals.
‘‘As a consequence, options for control are limited, as it is too close to houses to consider shooting, and the public generally do not want toxins laid where they and their animals walk.’’
Linz was consulting with the Otago Regional Council about control options in the area, she said.

ORC manager biosecurity and rural liaison Andrea Howard said staff undertook an inspection of this site recently.
‘‘While there were no signs of rabbits on the floodbank near Orchard Dr at the time of the inspection, there were signs of rabbits in the wider area.
‘‘We are following up with the relevant landowner, and will also be in touch with neighbouring properties about the pest plan rules and responsibilities.’’

The ORC itself did not undertake rabbit controls such as culling, which were the responsibility of landowners, she said.