North Lanarkshire Council admit there isn’t much they can do to keep deer and rabbits out of a Motherwell cemetery.
For some time visitors attending to the graves of loved ones at Airbles Cemetery have found flowers laid at the plots were being damaged.
Although initially thought to be the work of vandals it has now been discovered that deer and rabbits have been coming up from the River Clyde, which runs to the south of the cemetery, and nibbling at the floral tributes.
John Hamilton, whose parents, son and ex-wife are buried at Airbles, was stunned when he learned the cause of the damage.
He said: “I was considering removing my mother’s headstone because I had been abused over damage to the flowers on my ex-wife’s grave which I knew I had nothing to do with.
“She never had a bad word to say about anyone, so I thought it was strange her plot appeared to be getting specifically targeted, but I just wanted a quiet life.
“I went to the Co-op funeral parlour to find out how to go about removing a headstone and the women there advised me to talk to the cemetery staff before I took any further action.
“I did so and explained why I was planning to remove the headstone, it was then I was told there were actually hundreds of graves where the flowers had been damaged and it wasn’t anything to do with humans.
“It seems deer and rabbits have been coming up from the back of the Clyde and eating the tops of the flowers.
“This came as quite a shock, and it is worth highlighting to people who have found damaged flowers at the graves of their loved ones what the cause is.
“Maybe the council could put up a sign warning people this might happen, or alternatively perhaps rather than putting down fresh flower people lay artificial flowers which might discourage the deer and rabbits from investigating the cemetery when they feel hungry.”
The council says Airbles is not an isolated case, but while it sympathises about the damage could not offer a solution to the problem.
A spokesperson said: “A number of our cemeteries, including Airbles, are affected by deer and rabbits and we understand the distress caused to families.
“The population of deer has increased across Scotland recently, and unfortunately there is no way of preventing them getting into the cemeteries.”