An out-of-control rabbit population in the Te Karoro Queenstown Gardens is set to face the music.
In an email provided to residents and businesses near the gardens, Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) said the cull was aimed to reduce rabbit numbers to decrease their effect on vegetation.
QLDC has employed a professional contractor to carry out rabbit control in the lakeside gardens for up to four hours from 9pm tonight.
Mayor Glynn Lewers acknowledged the cull was one element of a wider rabbit problem in the Central Lakes.
“It’s been atrocious. I’ve never seen rabbits as bad as they have been. It’s terrible.
“To see them in urban areas just highlights the issue that we face with rabbits in the region.”
A night shoot was the most effective way to deal with the rabbit issue in the gardens, he said.
“There’s no other way. You can’t be dropping poison in a public area like that, because we have a high level of recreation, dog walkers and little ones in the garden.”
During the shoot, entrances to the gardens would be closed and monitored by security staff.
Council staff acknowledged noise from the firearms, which would be silenced, may be heard outside of the gardens.
Public walking tracks would be closed, and the public was advised that if asked to leave the area for safety, they were advised to do so.
Police had been notified of the shoot.
Out-of-control rabbit populations are not a new issue for this part of the country, and officials have routinely looked at ways to reign in the destruction caused by the furry pests.
In April this year, it was reported five Government organisations were issued work orders in the prior eight months as the Otago Regional Council responded to “plagues” of rabbits in parts of the region.
In previous years, Otago officials had also considered reintroducing a rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus to battle plague levels of rabbits.