Ballina being kept on the hop

brian bigg THERE'S a bunny problem in Ballina and local residents are hopping mad no one seems able to do anything about it. Local resident Craig said he was fed up with rabbits making his home their own. When he saw paw prints leading under his house he thought it was rats. But he soon found out the problem was bigger and had a fluffier tail.

"I went under the house and was moving some rubble around when my foot disappeared down a hole," he said. "They'd dug a warren under the footings supporting the main bearers so I had to jack the house up, fill in the holes and cage it all up so they couldn't get in," Craig said.

Recently his wife counted 43 of the pesky varmints when she went for a walk near the TAFE complex at the end of Burnett Street. Craig reckons after sunset they run up and down the lane behind his house like greyhounds. Two months ago he called the council to get something done but believes his complaint was lost in the council warrens.

He thought of baiting the bunnies himself, but won't risk the chance of harming domestic animals in the area. Edgar Clarke, a pensioner, lives down the road in Fox Street and received the same buck passing when he tried to do something about the growing rabbit population. A greenkeeper at a local bowling club who did not want to be identified has been battling the bunny problem for years, but said it's now worse than ever. He believes the rabbit rampage began years ago with a couple of unwanted pets and now there are hundreds of them on the loose.

"The lady bowlers think they're cute, but they don't have to deal with the consequences every morning." He claims they dig holes in drainage ditches and the gardens, but said baiting them wasn't an option.

Rural Lands Protection Board ranger Neil Hing said he knew of the problem in Ballina, but was quick to add the problem was not always his to solve. "We can only deal with European wild rabbits, which are grey in colour, and we can only help people who pay the Rural Lands Levy," he said. "The rabbits in Ballina are domestic animals on the loose, which are the responsibility of the land owner and council."

Ballina Council's Civil Service General Manager John Truman admits the council had received inquiries but said it had no clear answers to the bunny plague. He said he would try and work out in the next few days what could be done.

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