Record broken in Easter bunny hunt

Thousands of dead rabbits carpet Pioneer Park in Alexandra on Saturday, following the 19th annual...
Thousands of dead rabbits carpet Pioneer Park in Alexandra on Saturday, following the 19th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt. Photo by Rosie Manins.
Central Otago farmers have reason to smile following the eradication of more than 24,000 rabbits, hares, and other pests from farmland throughout the district.

The 19th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt culminated in a carcass count at Alexandra's Pioneer Park on Saturday, revealing a record for the number of rabbits shot per team.

Hunt convener Dave Ramsay said 23,064 rabbits were shot and collected by 39 teams during the 24-hour hunt.

The total was significantly up on last year's total of 14,799 rabbits.

"They [farmers] have to be pretty happy. We've had a pretty good clean-up and there's 23,000 [rabbits] that aren't out there breeding now anyway," he said.

Each team comprised 12 hunters who shot on ballot-allocated properties from Ettrick to St Bathans, the Lindis Valley to Lake Hayes and everywhere in between.

In 1997, a record 23,949 rabbits were shot by 44 teams - each averaging a kill of about 540 rabbits.

This year's 39 teams beat the "pro rata" record by each killing an average of about 590 rabbits.

The weekend tally included 1152 hares, 54 possums, 54 stoats plus other sundry pests and this year's overall tally came to 24,378, he said.

"There were a few magpies and goats shot."

Winning team SWAT shot in the Queensberry area between Cromwell and Luggate, collecting 2312 vermin - 2306 of which were rabbits.

Another Queensberry block proved fruitful, with third-place-getters Overkill shooting 1275 rabbits.

The second-placed Hair Raising Mutineers removed 1489 rabbits and a stoat from an Alexandra property.

Mr Ramsay said the hunt went off without a hitch and generated a good profit for the Alexandra Lions Club, which organised the hunt each year.

"The weather was amazing - it [rain] held off until we had finished packing up on Saturday afternoon. The hunt is a way for us to return a bit of money to the community, as well as help the farmers," he said.

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