Thousands of dead rabbits line Pioneer Park in Alexandra on
Saturday, following the 18th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt
organised by the Alexandra Lions Club. Photo by Rosie
Central Otago farmers are rid of 14,799 rabbits following
the 18th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt held throughout the
district over 24 hours during the long weekend.
Rabbit carcasses littered Pioneer Park in Alexandra on
Saturday when 460 shooters from 39 teams laid out their kill
for the final count.
Winning team Cuniculus Terminators, made up of 12 shooters
from Southland and Canterbury, shot and retrieved 978 rabbits
from its allocated Shepherds Creek block.
Hares, stoats, ferrets, goats, possums, turkeys and the odd
feral cat were among the tally of 15,495 pests.
The competition started on a frosty Friday morning, when
teams were allocated rural farm blocks roughly within one
hour's drive from Alexandra.
Drawn by ballot under police supervision, the blocks were
rated on a scale of 1-10 by the farmers who judged their
rabbit infestation levels.
Among those lucky to get good blocks was one team which was
allocated Ida Valley Station.
Hunt convener Dave Ramsay said the station owners had made a
special request this year for a team to hunt an additional
night, following Saturday's final count in Alexandra.
The event's popularity meant some shooters were again turned
away, with 120 not making the cut due to a lack of suitable
Mr Ramsay said with teams each sporting names such as Calici
Crusaders, Hair Raising Mutineers, Cuniculus Terminators,
Anti Pesto, and Oma Rabiti, a jovial atmosphere ensured the
hunt was as much fun as it was competitive.
"Everything was streamlined and went very well, considering
we had almost 50 more shooters than last year when 35 teams
entered. It was a great event."
Hunters came from throughout New Zealand, and women and older
children also sported guns or helped out.
Teams assembled at Pioneer Park after the hunt for a hot
lunch, live music, prizegiving, and to swap stories.
Organised by the Alexandra Lions Club, the annual hunt has
been responsible for culling almost 200,000 rabbits from
Central Otago since its inception in 1991.
Local scouts also benefitted, being commissioned by the Lions
to pick up all the dead rabbits and dispose of them in a
Kills from the past 10 hunts:
•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)
•2001: 3694 (17 teams)
•2000: 4324 (20 teams)
•1997: 23,949 (44 teams)