Stockholm’s Kungsholmen neighbourhood has solved the problem of finding fuel for a central heating plant by using thousands of rabbits as firewood.

The Local reports that each year, thousands of the animals are culled from surrounding parks, although the use of the cadavers as a bioenergy source has not met with a favourable reaction from animal rights groups. Locals have pointed to the Finnish practice of spraying the plants to make them less appealing as a more practical solution, although Helsinki recently revealed that many carnivores at the city zoo were fed rabbits hunted down by city authorities.

Last year a reported 6,000 Swedish rabbits were rounded up and slaughtered before being sent to the heating plant in Karslkoga. Authorities claim the move is designed to protect the city’s vast network of green spaces. Rather than dispose of the rabbits, the city froze the carcasses before sending them to the incinerators.

Anna Johannesson of the Society for the Protection of Wild Rabbits said: “Those who support the culling of rabbits surely think it’s good to use the bodies for a good cause. But it feels like they’re trying to turn the animals into an industry rather than look at the main problem”.

The Stockholm Traffic Office’s Tommy Tuvunger said part of the problem was due to delinquent pet owners who allow their rabbits to hop free in the city’s parklands. The Traffic Office is responsible for the control of Stockholm’s rodent and wild animal numbers and admits that many of those culled are tame animals.

Tuvunger went on to state that it only takes a few of the animals to engage in the practice that rabbits are most famous for creating a massive problem for authorities. To counter the population explosion officers use a special rifle, primarily at day break when furry faces first peek out from their burrows. The job is made easier in winter as falling leaves make targets more visible. “People who think that the bunnies are cute and cuddly suddenly don’t think they’re as fun anymore and put the animals outside. They think: ‘there they can play with the other rabbits’,” said Tuvunger.