Council to use poison gas on graveyard rabbit colony
Aberdeenshire Council said the move would kill the rodents 'as humanely as possible'.
A council is to gas a colony of rabbits who have moved into a graveyard.
Aberdeenshire Council said "significant" numbers of the animals have burrowed through Bass Cemetery in Inverurie.
The rabbits have eaten floral tributes left beside graves and the council says their burrows could lead to headstones collapsing.
A specialist contractor is now being brought in to exterminate the animals "as humanely as possible" using poisonous gas.
Aluminium phosphide tablets will be dropped into warrens, releasing gas into the burrow system.
The entrances will then be sealed, leaving the rabbits to die buried underground.
The gas takes 24 hours to disperse, and the cemetery will close for two days while the operation is ongoing.
Shirley Bruce, Aberdeenshire Council's landscape services principal officer, said: "Clearly this is a last resort but the problem is getting out of control and we receive a lot of complaints.
"We are asked on a regular basis to take action due to the damage caused to floral tributes.
"It is very upsetting for the recently bereaved to visit a family member soon after leaving flowers at their grave to see them destroyed.
"Whilst this action won't be popular with everyone, it's vital that we do it for safety reasons - some of the headstones could become unstable and could cause significant injury or worse should they fall."