You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Too many bunnies are hopping into Waitaki Valley towns and, once they start breeding this year, could cause a major problem by Christmas.
Environment Canterbury (ECan) is recommending the Waitaki District Council carry out rabbit control in the towns, particularly Otematata and Omarama where the numbers are a problem.
Otematata residents and the Ahuriri Community Board have already complained about rabbit nuisance, prompting an inspection by ECan's Timaru-based biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth.
He said rabbit levels were "just compliant" - below the trigger level at which control measures become compulsory - although causing a nuisance in green and public areas.
"These levels will quickly increase over the current breeding season, causing a serious issue by Christmas."
The problem required urgent attention, he said.
He suggested the council use a pest-control contractor to carry out spotlight shooting at night.
That would required extensive community notification of dates and times.
"Extreme care is, of course, required when discharging a firearm in this situation, but the method is potentially less controversial than using poison bait," he said.