How to control rabbits in and around solar farms
Ed Cook warms to the task of dealing with rabbits in these location
Rabbit management on solar farms
Over the years, solar farms have popped up all over the country in a bid to utilise renewable energy. The sites vary in size, along with the amount of energy they generate, but rabbits often favour them, though they clash with the smooth running of such operations.
Over the years I’ve worked on many solar farms; some have been rabbit-proofing projects combined with eradication, while others have been ongoing control. I have also been employed to go in behind other companies to put things right where previous rabbit management has failed.
Rabbits can cause dangerous damage
Some sites hold hundreds of rabbits, while others may only hold just a handful but are problematic all the same. Rabbits can cause all manner of issues, especially with the abundance of wires. Their chewing habits can even be dangerous and cause fires, not to mention the loss of income arising from such damage.
Their digging habits cause structures such as the panels or inverters to be unstable and become unsafe. Burrowing can also play havoc with machinery used to maintain such sites due to uneven ground, as well as make them look untidy. So solar farms and rabbits certainly clash.
Some sites are a large acreage, but most are small in terms of what rabbits can travel around, so this often means that correct rabbit-proofing is the best starting point. This consists of digging a trench along the perimeter fence and burying rabbit netting while having 3ft above the ground level. The gates are often a weak point and I’ve seen some that giraffes would be able to pass under, not to mention rabbits. This is often remedied by laying concrete plinths or even railway sleepers underneath so as to allow traffic to pass freely but not rabbits.
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Once this is achieved, the task of rabbit removal follows. In such circumstances eradication is possible, normally achieved by systematic ferreting, blocking holes and followed up by checks. We have also used drones fitted with thermal cameras in recent years. This has been a game-changer for finding out the true population within an area and has helped locate the stragglers during such an operation. A few left means there will be a whole lot more some time in the not too distant future, so we have to be thorough.
Ferreting works very well in such places but locators often don’t. This is, I presume, because of the amount of electrical current. So one has to be patient and hope they don’t lay-up on the last burrow of the day. Cage traps also work well when baited with carrots cut long ways. Shooting or the use of projectiles is forbidden in and around such places, but anyone wanting to shoot in such an area would need their head testing as well as some very good insurance.