For the last 23 years, hunters have been invited to shoot rabbits on Good Friday in Central Otago. This is a 24 hour event, starting at 9am on Friday. The dead rabbits are counted on Saturday. This year 18,027 rabbits were killed. The record was in 2011 with nearly 23,000 rabbits. Last year the number was only 10,424. Because of the drought this year, there is less tussock grass where rabbits can hide. However, because it was nearly full moon – and rabbits are shy of moonlight – it was still difficult to find the rabbits.
The hunters came from all parts of New Zealand and even from Australia. They work in teams of 12, spread out across a field, with some of the team behind to pick up the dead rabbits. This year 59 teams applied but only 37 farms were available. Names of teams were chosen by ballot 4 weeks ago. On Friday morning, teams and farms were chosen by ballot – some farms have more rabbits than others.
This was a fund-raising event. Money raised is for a CT scanner at the local hospital.
Rabbits are a huge problem in parts of New Zealand, especially Central Otago.
• Bunny – children’s word for rabbit. The title is an ironic reference to the Easter Bunny (chocolate bunnies).
• drought –no rain for a long time
• tussock – brown grass
Click here to see a picture of tussock.
• shy – afraid
• ballot – all names put in a hat and someone pulls out each name (e.g. 59 names in the hat and 37 pulled out)
• fund-raising – to raise (get) money. Note idiom – to raise money
• CT scanner – a large machine which uses X-rays to produce 3D images
1. Why are rabbits a problem on farms?
2. What are other ways to kill rabbits? How successful are these methods? Are they cruel i.e. do the rabbits suffer before they die?
3. Rabbits are not native to New Zealand. Why did 19th century Europeans bring rabbits here?