Animal lovers are furious Allerdale Council hired contractors who have been using rifles to kill the the rabbits at will in Cockermouth.
About 30 rabbits had been killed in Cockermouth Cemetery so far this year and more have been shot in Maryport cemetery after similar complaints there.
Jaquie Stobbart, from Cockermouth, said: ‘They don’t understand what they are eating, and to kill them is just cruel. People can’t just decide to kill defenceless animals like that, Metro UK reports .
‘I would imagine it’s only a minority that would want that anyway. I’m sure worse things are carried out by people and that course of action isn’t chosen to stop them.
‘It’s getting out of hand, where would it stop? There’s wildlife everywhere.That’s nature.’
However, Cockermouth councillor Len Davies said something had to be done because mourners were getting upset after finding freshly laid flowers eaten.
‘I am an animal lover and it is a pity that a solution other than killing cannot be found but I don’t know what alternative there can be,’ he said.
‘When I went round to see how big the problem was I saw there were quite a lot of flowers around. I did speak with people who were in the cemetery and they said it had happened to them.’
Allerdale council confirmed it called in a licensed contractor to tackle the rabbits, which have also been digging holes and causing safety concerns.
Cockermouth town councillor Ken Scales felt ‘something had to be done’ if the cemetery was being overrun, adding: ‘It’s bound to be upsetting for people that leave the flowers.’
Maryport resident Dolly Daniel, of High Street, Maryport, said: ‘I can understand relatives being upset if their flowers are being destroyed but I wouldn’t be too comfortable walking past the cemetery, hearing shots and seeing rabbits being slaughtered. I think I would avoid the place.’
The council said it had a statutory duty to control the number of rabbits on its land.
A spokeswoman said ‘This is not an unusual process, and other local authorities across the country use similar measures to control the numbers of rabbits on their land.
‘We occasionally receive complaints regarding rabbits eating flowers on graves, however they can also cause bigger problems to the quality and safety of the cemetery.
‘We therefore use a professional, licensed service to carry out the work as and when it is necessary, as we have done over the past few years.’
The RSPCA said it was opposed to the killing and a spokesman said: ‘If all humane deterrence and other measures fail, or there is evidence that alternatives are not appropriate, and a cull is supported by science, it is very important that it is carried out in a humane and controlled way.
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