Today I was working with Steve Light from Pest Bee Gone over near Goring / Wallingford doing some much needed rabbit control with the ferrets. Ferreting, when done well, is one of the most effective ways of clearing an area of rabbits and is also the most environmentally friendly one too as its all natural. Rabbits are a major agricultural and domestic pest in the Berkshire and Oxfordshire area.
I have been ferreting since is was very small, but I am still surprised when I come across people who have never done it. Well today, Steve was one of those guys.
When it comes to rabbit control using birds and hawks, Steve is one of the best Falconers in this area. Sadly, his best hawk died recently, and getting a good hawk to replace one lost is not an easy thing, so Steve needed to deal with the rabbit problem in another way – by using ferrets to control a growing rabbit problem in one of his customers gardens.
Anyway, I am happy to pass on skills to friends and colleagues and also work with like minded pest control professionals who have their clients interests at heart, so after a short chat to go through what we were going to do today, we set off for the first rabbit burrow to net up.
Ferreting is a skill you learn over many years – every hole is different and every situation is ever changing, so whilst you can show somebody how to do it, it is something that only experience can teach. Steve however took to it like a duck to water and soon was clearing bushes, netting up and getting on well. Then came the crunch moment….handling the ferrets!
It turns out that Steve was not a lover of ferrets, and having read a few of my previous blogs with various people getting bitten, he was very nervous. The thing is, the more you handle the ferrets the easier they get with you, so its something you have to do. The biggest issue is getting the radio collars on them, you are right at the business end and they do get cross if you fiddle about. Today, they were in a good mood, so getting them ready was very easy.
The next thing to overcome is grabbing the rabbits when they are in the net (the ferret will chase the rabbit into a net over the hole, which closes around them and holds them while you get there). I am a great believer in diving on the rabbit, despatching it quickly and humanly, then getting another net on before another one comes out. Sounds simple but when you have 30 holes all netted and two ferrets going nuts in the burrow, it does get a bit crazy – as Steve found out!
Anyway, we had to dig once to get a killed rabbit out (sometimes a ferret will actually kill a rabbit in the burrow and stay with it, trying to eat it) but the radio tracking worked perfectly and I dug down the 3 feet straight onto the rabbit and ferret, saving loads of time.
The day ended nicely with 14 rabbits in the bag, a very happy customer as the rabbits had devastated the garden, and a very happy Steve – who funnily enough now loves ferrets and can’t wait to do it all again soon!
If you live in the Oxford Area and have a rabbit problem, contact Steve at Pest Bee Gone now, and of course if you have a rabbit problem in the Newbury area, contact us now! Also, if you want to try your hand at ferreting, why not give me a call and we can sort something out – I am always looking to pass on these skills and willing students are always welcome – just call me – maybe a birthday present with a difference for a loved one??
Here is a few pictures of the day: