Visitors have been advised not to touch rabbits at a popular Dundee park after a disease outbreak.
Ian Ford, chair of the Friends of Riverside Nature Park, said: “Someone from Dundee City Council has been out to the park and has confirmed it is myxomatosis.
“Myxomatosis is a man-made disease which is appalling, and fleas on the rabbits transmit the disease and kill over 90% of all rabbits.
“Some rabbits can survive but it trashes the population.
“The main thing is the rabbits go blind and their eyes bulge which visually is really horrible.
“It is a slow, painful death because the rabbits can’t see, can’t feed and can’t escape predators and they just die where they die.
“I first saw them just before Christmas and a couple of members of the public got in touch to say they had seen some dead ones lying around too.
“I went to the park yesterday and saw seven dead rabbits and because it was pretty frosty they were all frozen to the ground so I couldn’t move them.”
Ian added he would advise people walking in the park not to touch any dead rabbits they come across.
He added: “Dogs won’t catch myxomatosis and there is no risk to humans but it would be wise to avoid touching them.
“In the past I have killed rabbits when they are suffering and it is not pleasant, and some people might want to give that a go but it is not nice and it is not easy.
“But this is the reality.
“We had an outbreak of myxomatosis five or six years ago and the population went down to very low numbers but rabbits do breed like rabbits so the numbers will come up again.
“The council also quite rightly said the positive that comes out of this is it provides food for other creatures – we have seen buzzards already catching rabbits in the park because it is easy when they are just lying there, and there have been foxes, stoats and weasels too which is unusual.
“So although it is horrible to see and horrible for the rabbits, there will be someone who benefits.”
A spokesperson for Dundee City Council said they were aware and were monitoring the situation.
Ian is also asking if anyone does see a bird of prey in the nature park, such as a sparrow hawk, owl, white tail eagle or buzzard, to get in touch with him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org