NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Burrowing Inverurie cemetery rabbits to be gassed

Cemetery Image copyright Aberdeenshire Council

Rabbits are to be gassed due to the damage they are causing at an Aberdeenshire graveyard.

Aberdeenshire Council said the action was as a result of concern from families with relatives buried at Inverurie's Bass Cemetery.

A specialist is being brought in to use a "fast-acting poisonous gas" as a "last resort" after other options were ruled out.

The cemetery will be closed as a result for 48 hours from Tuesday 27 November.

The local authority said the rabbits were undermining headstones and eating flowers and plants left by relatives and friends.

'Out of control'

Aluminium phosphide tablets will be put into rabbit holes, releasing gas inside the burrow system, and the holes will then be sealed.

It usually disperses within 24 hours, but the cemetery will be closed off for 48 hours as a precaution.

Landscape services officer Shirley Bruce said: "Clearly this is a last resort but the problem is getting out of control and we receive a lot of complaints.

"We are asked on a regular basis to take action due to the damage caused to floral tributes.

"It is very upsetting for the recently bereaved to visit a family member soon after leaving flowers at their grave to see them destroyed."

She added: "Whilst this action won't be popular with everyone, it's vital that we do it for safety reasons - some of the headstones could become unstable and could cause significant injury or worse should they fall.

"We've chosen to take this particular approach because it is known to be highly effective and we want to have a significant impact on the rabbit population as humanely as possible."