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New Zealanders go rabbit hunting for the 'Great Easter Bunny Hunt'

April 22, 2011 | 12:31 pm

Cottontail rabbit in the snow. While many may spend Sunday hunting the more traditional Easter egg, some New Zealanders will have finished up a hunt for the animal that supposedly delivers them.

The "Great Easter Bunny Hunt" is an annual rabbit hunting event taking place in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island.

Forty-seven teams are participating in this year's hunt, held as a way of decreasing the non-native rabbit population.

"Each team has 12 shooters, so that means we've got 564 hunters, plus their entourage -- the 'picker-uppers', the cooks, the supporters -- heading out on to farms throughout Central Otago to do battle with the rabbits," event organizer Dave Ramsay told the Otago Daily Times.

The teams shoot throughout the night and have to return by noon Saturday to have their haul counted. With a total prize purse of $3,500 ($2,800 U.S.), most hunters aren't in it for the money but rather the trophy awarded to the team that shoots the greatest number of rabbits, Ramsay said.

Last year, hunters brought in more than 20,000 of the mammals.

"There's no shortage of rabbits," Ramsay added. "There's been plenty of food for them and they have been breeding like ... well, like rabbits. "

-- Kelly Burgess


Photo: Cottontail rabbit in the snow. Credit: Scott Root / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources