Those rascally rabbits! Though only relatively recently introduced to Icelandic nature, the rabbit population has laid down roots in many of the country’s forested areas. One arborist in North Iceland is conceding the only option now is to learn to live with the bunnies, RÚV reports.
Ingólfur Jóhannsson, director of the Eyjafjörður Forestry Association, said that while efforts began in 2014 to eradicate the rabbit population in Akureyri’s Kjarnaskógur forest, he no longer considers them a plague.
“These rabbits are here to stay, and we will not get rid of them,” he said. “We just have to learn to live with them.”
Rabbits with expensive taste
Ingólfur told the state broadcaster the rabbits pose the biggest threat to saplings, and flowering trees and shrubs, like rose bushes and fruit trees. He has had to protect many plants — including a new cherry tree he’s growing — with chicken wire to keep the rabbits at bay.
It’s not only in the woods that the bunnies are getting up to no good. An Akureyri greenhouse has had to install a rabbit security system that emits a high-pitched tone to deter the animals, in addition to erecting rabbit fencing around the property
“If it crosses the fence, a rabbit can eat hundreds of plants in an hour,” said Sólskógar greenhouse employee Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson. “So there is a lot of financial damage if they get in.”
A love-hate relationship
While Akureyri’s environmental department is responsible for keeping the rabbit population in check and estimates that it shoots 3,000 rabbits per year, not everyone dislikes the furry little fellas.
Akureyri residents told RÚV they enjoy seeing the rabbits while walking through the forest. Even arborist Ingólfur said his opinion of the animals is different if asked in a professional context or as a private individual. “It’s such love and hate,” he said. “I think it’s best described that way.”