Rascally rabbits dismay footballers

A  rabbit hole in the middle of  Portobello Domain, which poses a danger to football players and...
A rabbit hole in the middle of Portobello Domain, which poses a danger to football players and others using the domain. Photo supplied.
Portobello Domain is under attack by rabbits, leaving members of a local football club at their wits' end with the 2014 football season just around the corner.

Nearly a year ago, the Star reported that the Hereweka Junior Football Club was concerned its home ground, the domain, was unsafe due to rabbits digging holes in the ground.

Despite the efforts of club parents and the Dunedin City Council to fill in the holes before games, rabbits kept returning and damaging the field.

Twelve months later, the problem is still occurring and the club is now considering looking for a new home ground.

There were no suitable grounds on the peninsula, and if a solution was not found, the future of the club could be at risk, a club spokesman said at a recent meeting of the Otago Peninsula Community Board.

Peninsula resident John More coaches a ninth grade team for the club. The team will be using the domain this season.

Along with other parents, he plans to turn up at the ground early on game days to fill in the rabbit holes.

However, Mr More worries a hole might be missed and a player might put their foot in it and break a leg.

Other grounds did not have problems with rabbit holes and Mr More was concerned Hereweka members were not getting what they paid for in fees to use the grounds.

''I don't understand why it can't be fixed,'' he said.

Dunedin City Council Parks operations officer Richard Dahlenburg said the issue with the field was it was a sand carpet field and rabbits loved to dig in sandy surfaces.

The DCC employed a contractor to fill in holes with new turf every Friday night.

There was a considerable cost to this and in the long term the DCC might have to look at creating

a sand soil surface which supported thicker grass and was therefore less attractive to rabbits.

The DCC also planned to fertilise the domain more to encourage better grass growth and was also working to eradicate rabbits in the area.

However, there were so many rabbits on the peninsula that Mr Dahlenburg described current efforts as a ''finger in the dyke'' approach.

Football South general manager Bill Chisholm said the rabbit holes affected the quality and safety of the playing field and this was not ideal, he said.

Football South was working with the DCC to find a solution to the problem, he said.


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