Carrots laced with K5 strain of Calicivirus to be used as bait for Christchurch's significant rabbit population

The residential red zone in Christchurch's eastern suburbs used to be home to thousands of people - but since they've moved out and the land has been cleared, hundreds of rabbits have moved in. 

"Last spring we did some surveys that indicated there wasn't the number of rabbits that required control. We followed up another survey post summer and its indicated that the rabbit population has increased," LINZ manager Matt Bradley told Newshub. 

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) says while the rabbits may look cute, they're posing quite a problem. 

"We have had complaints from the neighbours... rabbits are going in there and impacting on their private property," says Bradley.

"It also affects biodiversity... rabbits target native species, which we are trying to encourage in the red zone."

LINZ have devised a plan to lay some bait - and hope the rabbits take it.

Carrots will soon be laced with the K5 strain of Calicivirus and put across a number of red zones, including Brooklands, Bexley, Burwood Avondale and Heathcote.

"The idea is for the rabbits to get used to the carrots prior to releasing the K5 virus later on," says Bradley.

Land Information New Zealand says the K5-laced carrots pose no threat to anything but rabbits, but they urge any members of the public who may come across the carrots while walking to leave them alone.

The bait drop is expected to take a month.