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13 November 2014

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You are in: Essex > Nature > Nature Features > Woodland relishing wild rabbits

Wild rabbit

Rabbits can be a serious pest

Woodland relishing wild rabbits

Some of us go to enormous lengths to keep them out of our gardens, farmers lose considerable amounts of their crops to them. Love them or hate them, rabbits are very common in the countryside.

Rabbits are a welcome sight at Broaks Wood near Gosfield, according to the Forestry Commission.

Considered by many landowners to be a pest, the commission's Simon Leatherdale says the mammals do not pose a problem to their woodland.

"They are beneficial on this site and we are more than happy for them to be here," he said.

"Their burrows are used as hibernation sites for snakes, lizards and slow worms," he adds.

Controlling numbers

Until last year, landowners had a legal obligation to control rabbits numbers on their property.

Rabbit hole

This could have been a badger sett

Legal methods included shooting, snaring, gassing and live trapping. 

"We do very little rabbit control now," says Simon.  "On my patch all rabbit control is done by shooting and live trapping."

At Broaks Wood the rabbits are actually helping the environment.  The rabbits graze on the acid grassland, which is quite rare inland, which they help to maintain.

BBC Essex's Renee Hockley-Byam met Forester Simon Leatherdale at Broaks Wood near Gosfield to find out what the more about the Forestry Commission stance...

last updated: 24/07/2009 at 15:02
created: 24/07/2009

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