Wadden island wants its rabbits to… breed like rabbits

The rabbits on the Wadden island of Schiermonikoog are not producing enough babies and and are in need of encouragement, regional newspaper Leeuwarder Courant reported on Friday.

The rabbit populations on the Wadden islands have been hit hard by diseases like myxomatosis and this is putting natural dune management at risk, the paper says.

Rabbits are important because they keep pests like the American black cherry from proliferating while their fondness for digging holes also provides birds with a place to breed.

Natural heritage body Natuurmonumenten has now hit upon a method to increase rabbit numbers – by catching animals in places on the island where their presence is not wanted and putting them in a closed off spaces where they can breed safely.

Bringing in rabbits from the mainland is too time consuming and complicated  because of the permits involved, the paper said.

Conservation students have been drafted in to count and catch the animals which are chased from their warrens by ferrets. They will also document the new breeding method the success of the programme, which is scheduled to start in June, the paper said.

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