Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 19:19 UK

Bright Eyes writer's rabbit cull

Composer Mike Batt
Mr Batt enjoyed eight hit singles and four gold albums with The Wombles

The composer who wrote the famous theme music for Watership Down has ordered a cull of rabbits on his Surrey estate.

Mike Batt's land near Farnham was inundated by hundreds of rabbits which nibbled wires and piping.

Mr Batt, who hired a marksman, took advice on the most humane method of control. "It seems that dead rabbits are the story of my life," he said.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said that shooting could be a humane method of killing, depending on the skill of the marksman.

Mr Batt wrote Art Garfunkel's international number one single Bright Eyes which featured on Watership Down.

'Regretted cull'

He also enjoyed success with eight hit singles and four gold albums with The Wombles.

Mr Batt, who has lived on the land for 12 years, said: "There was a nice population of rabbits for many years, but a few years ago it seemed to double and double again."

He said that, although rabbits had a "lovely cuddly" image, in agricultural terms they were a huge pest and had been "literally everywhere" on his land causing considerable damage.

Mr Batt said he had very much regretted having to cull the rabbits and had hired a marksman because shooting was more humane than other methods.

He recalled how, as a child, he had see the suffering endured by animals caught in traps, adding "snares are horrible things, I would never put a snare out".

He stressed that, out of hundreds of rabbits, a relatively small number, perhaps 12, had been killed, adding that the rest of the animals seemed to have taken the hint and left his land.

'Crop damage'

Natural England said rabbits have established themselves again as "the major vertebrate pest of British agriculture", causing "serious crop damage".

A spokesman from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said rabbits might need to be controlled in areas where they caused a problem but it was vital that any control work was carried out in a safe and humane manner.

The RSPCA said there was no evidence that shooting a few rabbits would mean the rest moved on, however they might be more wary for a while.

Mr Batt is currently director of a management company and record label which has signed Katie Melua, Jem and French first lady Carla Bruni.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Was it a kind of bad dream?
03 Mar 09 |  Entertainment
'Cow' is death trap for rabbits
02 Feb 09 |  England
Rabbits killed to protect crops
08 Oct 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Grave concern over rabbit colony
21 Sep 04 |  South East Wales
Rabbit control call rejected
06 Jun 03 |  Europe

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific