The National Trust for Scotland has stepped in to curb Canna’s rampant rabbit population, after incessant burrowing plays havoc with the island’s infrastructure.
Home to 12 human inhabitants and more than 16,000 rabbits, the Scottish island of Canna is a tiny island with a big problem. Located 23 miles off Scotland’s north-western coast and surrounded by the cool waters of the Atlantic, Canna offers next to no natural predators, allowing the rabbits to thrive and do what rabbits do best – burrowing and breeding!
Whilst it certainly isn’t the first time that Canna has had to deal with an influx of four-legged fiends, the situation has now escalated to the extent that the island’s infrastructure is under threat. As well as digging up graveyards, bringing down walls and damaging important archaeological sites, the rabbits also caused a landslide, closing one of the island’s few roads for almost a week.
The landslide was the final straw for the island’s owners, The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who have this week announced a dramatic plan in a final bid to curb the population. Starting in early 2014, “thousands” of rabbits are set to be culled in what is set to be one of Scotland’s biggest ever extermination programs.
“There are concerns about the impact that the population is having on the island, given the recent landslide,” said a spokesperson from the NTS. “Following advice from a specialist wildlife advisor, we are about to go out to tender for a contractor to undertake control work on the island and to get the population down to manageable and sustainable levels.”
The cull couldn’t come soon enough for the island’s beleaguered residents, who are all thoroughly fed up with Canna’s latest animal invasion. One of Canna’s most outspoken inhabitants, Mrs. Winnie MacKinnon, explained that whilst she and her neighbours eat more than their fair share of rabbit-pie, their contribution to population control hasn’t made a dent on the spiralling number of rabbits.
With rabbit pie off the menu and further details about how the cull will take place as yet unclear, the NTS was quick to emphasize that the cull will be carried out as humanely as possible. Likely to involve live trapping and gassing, the campaign will be Canna’s second cull in less than 10 years, after an attempt to control the island’s rat population saw colony all but completely eradicated of rodents.