The hills are alive...with rabbits: ORC's Michael Laws claims 'neglect'

by Michael Laws - Mar 06, 2024

Otago Regional Councillor Michael Laws says all landowners need to take responsibility for rabbit control - and that includes councils and government departments. He thinks the ORC has been too slack with regard to holding these public authorities to their obligations.

Councillor Michael Laws: rabbit invasion.

It's Saturday, it's six in the morning, and I can't sleep.

So, I decide to go for a walk on a still morning, warm with the traffic already starting on the highway. I make my way down to the foreshore of Lake Dunstan where the bike trail runs next to the calm waterway - just past the boat launching pad and the Cromwell College rowing station. 

In the next ten minutes, I count around 100 rabbits feeding, playing and now running from this human invader. These are big rabbits, well nourished and fast, and they disappear in the countless mounds and tunnels that surround me. This is like pre-invasion Rabbit Gaza. I gave up counting at 100 - I had started counting in fives and then tens. On the Modified McLean Scale I’d estimate the rating about 50, maybe 150, not the extreme five rating. 

By the way - quail. Everywhere. About the same numbers as the rabbits, scurrying off in their family groups with their top knots and startled expressions. 

Now I should point out that I’m 10 minutes walk from my home on The Dunes. This is the bike trail/foreshore area that I suspect is not privately owned. Except, it appears, by the rabbits. 

Now I’m wagering that this area hasn’t seen an Otago Regional Council compliance officer. Ever. I’m also wagering that the rabbits don’t just congregate every Saturday morning. I’m also wagering that this land is either owned or managed by Land Information New Zealand, a local council, or both. I’m also wagering that the neighbouring areas - orchards, residences, some scruffy farmland, actually have rabbit plans but can’t figure where they’re all coming from. 

I was quite shocked on Saturday. I saw a plague of rabbits, not an unlawful grouping of them. I witnessed neglect. On a grand scale. And I think we’re a good part of it.

What do you think?

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux