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Poll: As rabbits are to be gassed on Beccles Common, do you think animals should be culled?

PUBLISHED: 16:47 07 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:57 19 December 2012

Wild rabbits are to be gassed as part of a move to control their numbers on Beccles Common.

Beccles Town Council have authorised a company to gas rabbits in three particular areas, after they caused irreparable damage to the public land.

It is a decision that has led to complaints from some who are concerned about the planned action.

Jill Featherstone, of Old Farm Road, Beccles, said she was sad and angry about the cull.

“It is very alarming to think that the rabbits are going to be gassed,” she said. “What have these poor creatures done to deserve so horrendous and painful death, because after all they are part of the ecology of our common land, not a priceless crop?

“They may dig holes, but when you walk around the common you will find a trackway full of big holes. It is also muddy and overgrown in places. We do not gas mass murderers, thank goodness, so why this on our common?”

She added: “I cannot help but think that this is done to scare the dog walkers off the common, and what is this terrible exercise going to cost Beccles taxpayers?

“I can think of far more important things to spend our money on.”

Hilary Cox said she “totally outraged” and raised concerns about the impact on dogs.

She said she had spoken to dog walkers on the common who thought it was cruel and a waste.

“I personally am not sentimental about the animal and would happily eat a rabbit that was shot, but to indiscriminately kill like this is wicked in my view,” she said.

A statement from Beccles Town Council has confirmed that the gassing would happen later this month.

“It is for the benefit of the common because we regard it as a valuable asset to Beccles and irreparable damage is being done to the fabric of the surface and grasses.

“We have consulted with the police and Suffolk Wildlife Trust and have a fully licensed contract company to carry out work on three small areas.”

Ray Walding, club secretary of Beccles Golf Club, which is based at the common, said it was not due to the club that they were being gassed.

He said it was part of the council’s responsibly to look after the common and it was the first cull he could remember since he was involved in the club in 1998.

However, he said the club was in support of the cull calling the rabbits a “pest” and “vermin”.

He said: “The problem is the whole of the common has deteriorated by the rabbits, not just the golf course.

“The whole common is full of rabbit holes.”

He added that he believed a dog walker had broken two bones in her wrist earlier this year after stepping in a rabbit hole.

This cull of wild animals is not the first to cause a divide in opinion locally.

Last week a parliamentary debate on the proposed cull of wild badgers, aimed at stopping the spread of bovine tuberculosis among cattle, saw supporters claiming too many threaten the country’s dairy industry, while campaigners called for a vaccination programme.

While earlier this year a controversial pigeon cull saw around 100 birds shot and netted in North Walsham.

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