Over 10,000 rabbits killed in New Zealand’s Great Easter Bunny Hunt

European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) . LEHTIKUVA / Antti Aimo-Koivisto

The bunny rabbit may be an adorable symbol of Easter for many around the world, but in areas of New Zealand the rabbit is public enemy number one.

This Good Friday, hunters killed over 10,000 rabbits in New Zealand’s South Island in the 25th year of what has become known as The Great Easter Bunny Hunt.

Rabbits are not native to New Zealand or Australia, having been introduced by European settlers in the 1830s. With few predators and an endless landscape of fertile vegetation, the population exploded on the island nations.

READ MORE: Caught on camera: Easter bunny drops gloves with dad at mall photo booth

The damage to the natural ecosystem has at times been catastrophic, with millions of dollars spent annually to control the “pests” and booms of the invasive species regularly referred to as “plagues”.

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The 328 hunters who participated in the 24-hour cull in Central Otago were divided into teams with names like Happy Hoppers, Hopper Stoppers and The Anti-pestos. The winning team, called Down South, finished on top for the second straight year bagging 899 rabbits.

The kill total was up 8,439 from last year but was still a far ways off from the record year of around 30,000. Some 287,679 rabbits have been killed during the course of the event’s history.

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