Canna con­trol

Ed Cook re­turns to the Isle of Canna, one of the most mem­o­rable places of his rab­bit-catch­ing ca­reer, to catch up with an old friend

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The culling of rab­bits on the Isle of Canna is one of the high­lights of my ca­reer. For those who don’t know where it is, it’s a small is­land in the In­ner He­brides, off the coast of West Scot­land. To say it’s a scenic part of the world is an un­der­state­ment, as I have yet to work in a place that has matched it. I need lit­tle ex­cuse to visit this spe­cial place, jump­ing at the chance when­ever I get the op­por­tu­nity to do so.

Craig, my work col­league, has lived on the is­land since the com­ple­tion of an ini­tial rab­bit cull in 2014. His job is to keep on top of the pop­u­la­tion, en­sur­ing it doesn’t creep up to plague pro­por­tions, al­though we are

not al­lowed to erad­i­cate the rab­bits, be­cause the own­ers want to en­sure there is food for the sea ea­gles. Craig also helps me with var­i­ous other rab­bit con­trol projects across Scot­land, a grow­ing side of my busi­ness.

Fenn-tas­tic bitch

Joined by my friend Josh, I was look­ing for­ward to see­ing Craig, as we had planned on do­ing some fer­ret­ing, and to also in­tro­duce Craig’s lurcher bitch, Fenn, to Josh’s stud dog, Jax.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing on the is­land, we were soon fer­ret­ing, chat­ting as we went from one bur­row to the next. It was nice to see Craig’s bitch in ac­tion, as I’ve seen very few dogs

that can match the cal­i­bre of Fenn when it comes to hunt­ing rab­bits.

Watch­ing her drift from hole to hole while the fer­ret worked be­low, snatch­ing any rab­bit that dare bolt, brought back mem­o­ries of her an­ces­tor, Red. Her abil­ity to mark in­hab­ited holes with pin­point ac­cu­racy is a very im­por­tant as­set for any pro­fes­sional rab­bit con­troller. Her fit­ness lev­els are high, and she has caught rab­bits from places where most folk would not dare at­tempt climb­ing. She re­ally is a true as­set.

Craig’s con­trol

I asked Craig how the rab­bit con­trol was go­ing on the is­land, and he con­firmed the tally of rab­bits had reached over 21,000, which isn’t too bad, con­sid­er­ing most of the work is car­ried out on foot.

He was do­ing well with the hun­dred or so

rab­bit drop boxes on the is­land; the fer­ret­ing was im­prov­ing be­cause the rab­bits seemed to be bolt­ing more than they did a few years ago; he was shoot­ing de­cent num­bers of rab­bits dur­ing days of nice weather; and lamp­ing at night with his dog was pro­duc­tive be­cause he was al­ter­nat­ing be­tween the ar­eas he had ear­marked.

Catch­ing crabs

In his spare time, Craig sets lob­ster and crab

pots from a boat he has ren­o­vated, and I was de­lighted to get the chance to check them out. To some, this may sound like the ideal job, and while look­ing out to sea with a fer­ret in a bur­row and my dog by my side, I felt spoilt to be do­ing this as a pro­fes­sion.

Fenn and Jax had mated and we went home with crabs - I can't think of any other ar­ti­cle that would con­clude with a sen­tence like this! www.ev­er­greenrab­bit­con­

“Watch­ing her brought back mem­o­ries of her an­ces­tor, red.”

A fast and fit lurcher is an es­sen­tial tool for ef­fec­tive rab­bit con­trol on the is­land

In the spot­light: lamp­ing at night with dogs has pro­duced some good re­sults

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