Easter bunnies hunted prey in New Zealand

2015-04-04 10:56
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Wellington - Hundreds of New Zealand hunters fanned out over the hills in search of rabbits to kill at the start of Easter weekend.

The annual Easter Bunny Hunt ended midday on Saturday, with slightly more rabbits dispatched than in 2014, Alexandra Lions Club president John Feron said.

"Last year we got just over 7 000. This year the grand total was 8 439 rabbits. The weather was kind to us," he said.

Rabbits are considered a major pest in New Zealand, causing serious damage to farmland and the hill country. Despite efforts to cull them by poisoning, trapping, shooting and other means, their numbers continue to grow.

Feron said the tally from the annual cull was unlikely to make a major dent in the rabbit population.

The hunt is held in the Central Otago district of the South Island.

Groups of 12 shooters are each allotted an area, with 24 hours to track down and kill as many rabbits as they can. This year, 27 groups took part.

The winning team, Down South from the township of Winton, bagged 876 rabbits, while the last-place team only managed to get 15, probably due to rabbit poison recently laid in their area, Feron said.

"It was a bit of a shame they were on there, really," he said. "But it does give an idea of how widely the rabbits are spread and how the numbers differ around the place.

The Bunny Hunt is a fundraising event for charities nominated by the Alexandra Lions Club.

Regular participating teams include the Southern Hopper Stoppers and Blasted Bunnies.

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