Row upon row of dead rabbits brought smiles to the faces of Central Otago farmers yesterday, with the news that the pest population had dropped by 22,904.
The victims of the 20th Great Easter Bunny Hunt were displayed at Pioneer Park in Alexandra - and thousands of people gathered over the weekend to see the haul collected by 47 teams of hunters in 24 hours.
The Beige Brigade Wolfpack team, from Southland, won the contest, bagging 1664 bunnies on a Luggate farm.
Captain Jason Gerken, of Winton, said the team carried out the hunt like a military operation.
"We kept going for the full 24 hours with hunters always ready to shoot."
Rabbits were the focus, but pigs, hares, stoats, ferrets, turkeys, pigeons and even a goat featured in the spoils displayed by teams.
Not all were pleased with the tally. A spokesman from Animal Welfare group Safe, Hans Kriek, criticised the event yesterday and was reported as saying the hunt did more to incite cruelty than control the pest.
Event convener Dave Ramsay said the spokesman was entitled to his views, "but he's clearly never seen the devastation wrought by rabbits in this area".
"We think we're doing something to tackle the rabbit problem and I think the majority of views, especially those of farmers, are in our favour."
The rabbit corpses were picked up by the Alexandra Scout group, which carries out the task as a fundraiser, for composting.
- OTAGO DAILY TIMES