updated 4/7/2006 11:53:02 AM ET 2006-04-07T15:53:02

It sounds like a job for Wallace and Gromit.

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A “monster” rabbit has apparently been rampaging through vegetable patches in a small village in northern England, ripping up leeks, munching turnips and infuriating local gardeners.

In an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the hit animated film “Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” angry horticulturists in Felton, near Newcastle, have now mounted an armed guard to protect their prized cabbages and parsnips.

“They call it the monster. It’s very big -- it’s nearly the size of a dog,” said Joan Smith, whose son Jeff owns one of the plots under attack.

“It’s eating everything, all the vegetables,” she told Reuters. “They are trying to shoot it. They go along hoping to catch it but I think it’s too crafty.”

In the “Wallace” film, which topped both the U.S. and UK box office charts and in March won an Oscar for best animated feature film, the plasticine heroes battle a mutant rabbit bent on destroying their home town’s annual Giant Vegetable Contest.

Cross between hare and a rabbit
Those who say they have witnessed Felton’s black and brown monster describe it as a cross between a rabbit and a hare with one ear bigger than the other.

Its antics came to public attention when Jeff Smith, 63, raised it as an issue with the local parish council.

“He came along to pay the annual fee for the allotment (vegetable patch) and he said ’ooh we’ve got this big cross between a hare and a rabbit,’” the council’s clerk Lisa Hamlin told Reuters.

Smith himself has described it as a “brute” which had left huge pawprints.

“This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster,” he was quoted by newspapers as saying.

“It is absolutely massive. The first time I saw it I thought to myself ’What the hell is that?’

“We have two lads here with guns who are trying to shoot it, but it is very clever.”

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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