You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Event convener Dave Ramsay this week confirmed the bunny hunt would not be held this Good Friday and Easter Saturday, as it had been for about 25 years.
Last year's bunny hunt was canned because of the introduction of the rabbit virus RHDV1 K5. The event had only been cancelled once before that, because of fire risk, about 20 years ago, Mr Ramsay said.
The Alexandra Lions Club, which organised the bunny hunt, was disappointed at having to cancel the event again this year. It was ''a difficult decision to make'', he said.
However, the fire risk and high grass levels this season meant it was not safe to hold it.
Lions club president Barry McCall said there was a restricted fire season throughout Central Otago, and dry grass up to 70cm high in some places. The grass would mask rocks and holes and make it dangerous for quad bikes and walking, and would also mean it would be hard to see the rabbits.
Many farmers, although ''obviously keen'' to have rabbit numbers reduced on their properties at a time when levels were at record highs in some places, thought the risk of running the event this year was too high, and organisers respected the farmers' views, Mr Ramsay said.
''It's [the bunny hunt] a two-part event. You've got your shooters and you've got your farmer base and one can't do it without the other.''
Mr Ramsay said the cancellation put the rabbits ''in a winning team'' this year, but he hoped the bunny hunt would be held again.
''We're hopeful it will never end. Next year, we'll be making a very determined effort to bring it back.''
The event raises about $10,000 every year for the Lions club, which donates the money to various causes.