Laws’ rabbit control plea: ‘We need to boost our presence in this area’

Otago regional councillor Michael Laws says Otago’s war on rabbits is already lost. PHOTO:...
Otago regional councillor Michael Laws says Otago’s war on rabbits is already lost. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Otago has already lost the war on rabbits, Otago regional councillor Michael Laws says.

The question now is by how much.

Cr Laws, the Otago Regional Council deputy chairman, used a discussion of the council’s annual report yesterday to make a plea for greater resources to be put into action against rabbits.

He said his cat had killed 10 rabbits in the past month, which he suspected was more than the council had killed in the area.

‘‘I don’t think we should leave it to stray cats to do the job — or my cat in particular,’’ Cr Laws said.

‘‘We need to boost our presence in this area.’’

The annual report, which was adopted yesterday by the council, said there had been 331 rabbit inspections compared with the council’s target of 130.

Those inspections found only 53% of properties were compliant.

‘‘That means that on almost half the properties that we’ve visited, and we wouldn’t have visited anywhere near a majority of properties, the rabbit menace was such that we were simply losing the battle,’’ Cr Laws said.

‘‘I want to draw to the attention of this [council] table that we aren’t losing the battle, we have lost it.

‘‘And now it’s just the question of how much we’ve lost it by.’’

The annual report covers the gamut of council activities, including leading the establishment of community responses to rabbit management in Lake Hayes, Albert Town and Gibbston, and planning for further facilitated action in Hidden Hills, Queensbury and Moeraki.

In the report’s preamble by council chairman Andrew Noone and chief executive Sarah Gardner, they note a lot of council activity was driven by central government.

Significant government reforms under way continued to affect the council’s work programme ‘‘and these changes affect how we prioritise issues, distribute resources and make local decisions for Otago’’.



Laws was not around the area when the president of Upper Clutha farmers on the illegal introduction of RCD said in media, the farmers want full control of the rabbit situation. They were sick of beaurocrats and wanted to do it themselves. Rabbits can be controlled like every other pest if the work is put in - many do and have a sustainable situation - others do not. The ORC is not to be a quasi rabbit board.

We can just add this to the growing list of ORC failures as the truth comes out, courtesy Cr Laws. Rabbits have not suddenly arrived in Otago and are not a new problem. Even with 150 additional staff recruited by the Chief Executive ORC has failed to properly monitor rabbit numbers and failed to enforce compliance, Noone and Gardener’s pathetic attempt to divert attention to Central Government is despicable. We will no doubt hear the endless cry “ we need more staff, we need to increase rates.” ORC has the legal mandate to enforce rabbit control but it is not doing so. This ORC executive and many of it’s impotent Councillors needs replacing now if we are to have any hope of protecting and rebuilding Otago’s environment.

I'm a shooter from way back. Can still make a head shot on a rabbit with a supressed sub-sonic .22 at 100m, still pretty damn good with a shotty and not doing much over the summer.

Any farmer / lifestyle block owner that would like my services to rid them of the pests, rabbits, not ORC council members, has somewhere I can park the caravan & ute, (preferably with power available), can keep me supplied in ammo, I'm happy to help out.

Not MPI accredited for pet food shooting, but my dog will take care of a few.

Hopefully the editor can pass on my details ... don't particularly want to leave my contact details for everyone to read.

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