23,000 Bunnies Slaughtered in Easter Hunt

The slaughter of more than 23,000 rabbits during New Zealand’s 20th annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt has drawn criticism and outrage from animal lovers and activists.

The hunt is held on New Zealand’s South Island and is a charity event that is devoted to ridding farmlands of rabbits, which are considered an invasive pest.

Safe director Hans Kriek said he was against the hunt. “It’s seen as a party atmosphere, sending people out as inexperienced hunters blasting away at animals. The ones they kill are one thing, the ones they injure are another.”

He also doubted the effectiveness of a 24-hour killing-spree, which did “more to incite cruelty than control the pest”

“You can commit any atrocity you like to animals in the name of hunting, and you fall outside the legislation, which is crazy, because wild animals feel pain just as much as domestic ones,” he said.

Thousands turned out for the event where 47 teams of hunters, with 12 shooters each, took part in the massacre that lasted overnight until noon the next day where hunters had to turn in their bunnies. The team with the most killed wins $3,500 ($2,800 USD). 

“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,” said Hunt spokesman Dave Ramsey.

However, Federated Farmers Otago president Michael Lord also believed the hunt was unlikely to make a difference because the infestation was the worst its been in years. “There’s no easy fix, no silver bullet to kill all of them.” 

To control or kill an invasive species is one thing, but to send people out in droves and turn the killing of innocent creatures into a party is offensive. Especially considering the number of children who love the Easter bunny. 

Learning about the natural cycles of life and death is no doubt an important lesson and may be a common practice in some families, especially in farming communities, but how does teaching a child to make a sport out of an animal’s death foster the respect for life we all hope children grow to understand? 


Related Stories: 

Buy Chocolate: Save an Easter Bunny

Easter is No Treat for Pet Bunnies

Bunnies in Danger as Year of the Rabbit Begins






Past Member 2 years ago

the word "despicable" is not sufficiently strong.

Julia Kutyreva
Julia Kutyreva4 years ago

this is just horrible! it's a merry holiday, why make a massacre out of it? unbelievable cruelty.

Pat Coetzer
Pat Coetzer5 years ago

OH MY G*D!!!!! What is the world coming to or should I say the HUMAN RACE, (if you can call them that). I am sick and tired of reading and seeing what animals have to suffer at the hands of mankind. When is all this cruelty and evilness going to stop towards animals. LEAVE THEM THE F@#K ALONE!!!!! I wish animals would turn on these excuses for human beings. I just want to scream at it all. I am so angry. Who thinks up all these evil acts towards animals. WHY, WHY, WHY. I am going off here because I just cannot take it anymore.
Governments all over the world should start laying down the law and stopping any form of animal cruelty and making it one of their priorities. It is just shameful.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago


Gloria H.
Gloria H5 years ago

dumb asses. How incredibly crass to have it on Easter! Where the hell does the churches stand on this? There has got to be a better way of controlling rabbit population...hawks, owls, domestic spayed and neutered feral cats.
they should be happy they don't have a plague of rats that spread disease. Surely, some think tank will come up with a humane idea to control them other than this blood bath.

Suzanne Loewen
Suzanne L5 years ago

This is horrible. Easter and spring are associated with life-affirming values not killing parties.

Shannon B.
S B5 years ago

Rabbits, and all other life forms on Earth, will never top humans as the most destructive invasive species.

Shannon B.
S B5 years ago

Colleen p., "AIDs, make bunny rabbit AIDS," charming.
you are the kind of filth that needs to be removed from this planet. AIDS and cruelty are not things to be made light of. of course all one has to do is look at your pathetic profile to see that you are a schizophrenic sociopath and self proclaimed "troll" and your ramblings in broken English don't help much.
from your profile:
"Kudos to the people who love invasive species more than their native wildlife.
it's so good to know the value of life.
but hey, we're humans. we destroy everything. animals deserve the same right. so what if 1 non human makes 30 species go extinct.
they have a right to live the way ""god intended""
Girl, you need to go back on your medication.

Shannon B.
S B5 years ago

Yet again, animals are getting the shaft because of human carelessness, arrogance and its sense of entitlement. I see by some comments that we as humans are quickly devolving.
Rabbits aren't indigenous to Aus or NZ, they were brought there by the British for sport hunting. Rabbits were introduced into New Zealand for the "sport" of hunting, in the 1830s.
In Australia, a farmer named Thomas Austin who had a property in Winchelsea, Victoria, is credited with introducing rabbits into Australia, leading to their current plague proportions. Austin was a member of the Acclimatisation Society, a group which believed in introducing exotic species into new locations around the world. In October 1859, Austin imported 21 European rabbits for hunting, releasing them on Christmas Day that year. Within a short period of time, it became evident that Victoria provided the ideal climate for the rabbits to breed and become a national pest. Rabbits have since spread throughout Australia.

People are selfish savages.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Kate is right