Ferrets to tackle rabbit menace on Ottery allotments

PUBLISHED: 16:10 09 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:42 18 June 2010

THEY have seen off thieving two-legged pests- but Ottery allotment holders are now being left hopping mad by a floppy-eared, fluffy menace chomping on their produce.

THEY have seen off thieving two-legged pests- but Ottery allotment holders are now being left hopping mad by a floppy-eared, fluffy menace chomping on their produce.

Hungry rabbits have descended upon the Higher Ridgeway site for a winter vegetable feast- and having been told they can't shoot them or use dogs to deter them- plot-holders have turned to highly-trained ferrets stop the brazen bunnies. .

Grower Adrian Forster said he has never known such a problem in there 22 years on the allotment.

He said: "All through the summer and winter they've been eating their way through the plots and have chopped the tops off all my leeks, chewed on delicate blueberry branches and even tried digging up my parsnips.

Rabbits don't even like leeks! I've been up there on occasions and seen one seen sitting there, quite tame looking back at me- They are very bold and very cocky.

Mr Forster thinks changes to nearby farming practises have led to the rabbits looking further afield for sustenance- and is in favour of sending in the ferrets to combat the problem.

Trained ferrets can be sent down rabbit holes to flush their furry, floppy eared counterparts into waiting nets.

Mr Forster said: "I think it is a very good idea. At this time of year you rely on your winter greens and things that have been in the ground for a long time- summer is productive but what ever you have left at this time of year is essential. The rabbits have been damaging and eating things that have taken the best part of a year to grow."

Last month a request by allotment members to take up arms and shoot the buck-toothed blighters was emphatically denied by police.

Ottery town council then voted against lifting a dog-ban on the site but officials see had no objection in the introduction of ferrets.

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