The winning team in the Great Easter Bunny Hunt was the
Beige Brigade Wolfpack (from left) Jason Gerken, of Winton,
Marty Taylor, of Gore, Nathan Dawson, of Makarewa, John
Clearwater, of Castlerock, Steve Nunns, of Invercargill,
Chris Ramage, of Nightcaps, Bruce Paterson, of Scotts Gap,
and Jake Williams, of Kaiwera. The team shot 1664 rabbits
as its contribution to the 22,904 tally from the 24-hour
event. Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
Row upon row of dead rabbits covering Pioneer Park in
Alexandra on Saturday bought satisfied smiles to the faces of
Central Otago farmers, reinforced with the news the pest
population had been culled by 22,904.
The occasion was the 20th anniversary Great Easter Bunny
Hunt, and thousands of people gathered to see the 24-hour
hauls collected by the 47 teams.
The Beige Brigade Wolfpack team, from Southland, won the
contest, bagging 1664 bunnies on a Luggate farm.
Captain Jason Gerken said the secret of the team's success
was that it carried out the hunt like a military operation.
"We kept going for the full 24 hours, with hunters always
ready to shoot."
Mr Gerken, a ferret contractor for the Animal Health Board,
said the team was made up of "friends, friends of friends,
and friends of friends of friends."
It had a good support crew, which included three cooks,
ensuring no time was wasted.
The top 10 teams scored their high tallies on Luggate, Lake
Hayes, Matakanui, Tarras, Bendigo, Queensberry, and
Waikerikeri Valley farmland.
Rabbits were the focus, but pigs, hares, stoats, ferrets,
turkeys, pigeons and even a goat featured in the spoils
displayed by teams.
The hunt recorded its first injury, with a 54-year-old Chatto
Creek man who fell from a truck while shooting at Lake Hayes.
"He broke his ribs, punctured a lung and will be in Kew
Hospital for about a week and he phoned me today from his
hospital bed to check how his team-mates were going, " event
convener Dave Ramsay said.
A spokesman from Animal Welfare group Safe, Hans Kriek,
criticised the event yesterday and was reported as saying the
hunt did more to incite cruelty than control the pest
"He's entitled to his views, but he's clearly never seen the
devastation wrought by rabbits in this area, " Mr Ramsay
"We think we're doing something to tackle the rabbit problem
and I think the majority of views, especially those of
farmers, are in our favour." Demand was so high for the
Alexandra Lions-organised event this year that 16 team places
had to be balloted.
Fox Gallagher (17), Isaac Boyce (12) and Keegan Blackadder
(16), all of Christchurch, were members of the Erabbicator
team. Although it only despatched 307 rabbits, 66 hares, two
possums and two stoats, the event was still worthwhile "as a
fun boys' weekend away", Keegan said.
"It all goes back to the caveman days - that whole
hunter-gatherer thing," Tina Dooley, of Oamaru said.
Part of the support crew for Bob's Bunny Busters, she said
most of the women in the crew took on the role of
"picker-uppers" - "so the menfolk can get on with their
Ravensdown Cunning Dozen captain, Graham Geary, of Mosgiel,
said his team tally was 229 rabbits and a couple of turkeys
"That's a bit of a disappointment and the block we were
shooting, we think that cocky has got any rabbit problem well
"But still, being here is better than being at work and we'll
be back next year."
The rabbit corpses in the park were picked up by the
Alexandra Scout group, which carries out the task as a
fundraiser. The animals are broken down for compost.
Kills from the past 10 hunts:
• 2011: 22,904 (47 teams)
• 2010: 23,064 (39 teams)
• 2009: 14,799 (39 teams)
• 2008: 15,542 (35 teams)
• 2007: 16,121 (31 teams)
• 2006: 12,494 (35 teams)
• 2005: 20,201 (43 teams)
• 2004: 11,546 (33 teams)
• 2003: 9148 (27 teams)
• 2002: 7513 (18 teams)
Total rabbits in 20 years: 243,311