Rabbit influx at Auckland park concerns council


Rabbit numbers are growing at an Auckland lakeside park and the Council is not happy about it, saying the damage may cost the ratepayer.

Visitors to Western Springs Lakeside Park will have noticed an increase in population of rabbits in the morning and early evening over the past month.

Auckland Council says the rabbits pose an ecological threat to wildlife at Western Springs, and there is a risk of people tripping over their burrows.

Contract coordinator for the council David Stejskal says rabbits will attract cats to the park which will prey on them, and the birds living around the lake.

Western Springs is known to support native tui, pukeko and fantail.

"Rabbits also eat grass and native plants – a key source of food for the park's bird population – and in some areas are known to cause substantial damage to park grounds as a result of burrowing," says Mr Stejskal.

Mr Stejskal says the damage the rabbits are doing to the park could cost ratepayers in the long run.

"Grassing over burrowed holes, only to find more holes cropping up, costs money and is not a long-term solution," he says.

Pest management options are being investigated by council staff, who will take into account the size, location and use of a park.

"There are a number of different methods for controlling rabbits, including shooting, biological control agents, fumigation and the use of toxic baits. All methods will be considered and we might find that more than one method is required," says Mr Stejskal.

The council says the public will be notified if any pest control is carried out in the area.

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