1. ITV Report

Offensive messages sent in row over rabbit cull

Over 30 rabbits have been shot Credit: ITV

A councillor who defended the culling of rabbits in West Cumbrian cemeteries has been sent offensive messages by animal rights activists.

The rabbits are being shot because they have been eating floral tributes left on graves.

A contractor has been hired by Allerdale council to shoot the rabbits with around 30 killed in Cockermouth Cemetery.

Len Davies, Allerdale councillor for Cockermouth, was originally contacted by elderly relatives who complained that their flowers had been eaten.

After saying that he could see no alternative to the cull councillor Davies has received a number of abusive emails.

Len Davies: No alternative to cull Credit: Allerdale

He told ITV Border that he had taken legal advice from Allerdale council after receiving offensive messages.

One email suggested that Mr Davies was cruel to animals and would happily shoot a dog if it misbehaved and promised to contact a network of other “animal lovers” to complain about the cull.

“I am not a sensitive sort and have will just give as good as I get,” he added.

Mr Davies said he was an animal lover and thought it a "shame" that the rabbits were being shot.

Meanwhile the Animal Aid charity says it has written to Allerdale to advise on alternatives to culling rabbits.

These methods include fences, surrounding the area with dried holly leaves and planting flowers that rabbits seek to avoid – including yellow flag, cyclamen, foxglove, and snowdrops.

Spokesman Tod Bradbury said: “‘We hope that the council will find the alternatives provided to them useful and seek to adopt them in order to resolve the situation.

“Humane solutions are not only better for wildlife, they are generally cheaper than lethal methods – thus making them better for the council economically, for residents opposed to killing animals, and for mourners who do not wish to have their floral tributes destroyed.’”