The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) is calling on Natural England (NE)to review its policy on how landowners are entitled to manage rabbit populations.

“It is unfortunate that last November, without any real consultation, NE decided it would no longer take action against land managers who refuse to control rabbits on their land,” said the CLA’s Christopher Price.

For the past 60 years, as part of the 1947 Agriculture Act and the 1954 Pests Act, all landowners had a duty to keep down rabbit numbers on their property to protect crops.

If a neighbour failed to do so, aggrieved landowners could apply to NE for an Agriculture Act Notice, which ordered the despatch of the rabbits. Mr Price said that the CLA is now urging NE to reinstate the statutory powers that enabled landowners to ensure proper rabbit management is undertaken throughout England.

Mr Price added: “Rabbits, according to NE’s own figures, destroy around £50million worth of cereals every year, causing major loss to landowners. Previously, a land manager who felt their neighbour was not taking their responsibilities towards rabbits seriously could threaten to call in NE which could often sort out matters. Now there is no-one for the land manager to go to.”

The rest of this article appears in 26 August issue of Shooting Times.

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