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
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.
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.
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.
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.evergreenrabbitcontrol.co.uk
“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