The annual Great Easter Bunny Shoot has been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
Heightened fire risk, health and safety concerns, a change of land use and new management has led to a smaller number of properties being available for the shoot this year.
The annual event, organised by the Alexandra District Lions Club, attracts from 190 to 220 hunters from throughout the South Island and creates a sizeable dent in the region’s pest population — almost 12,000 rabbits were shot at the last event in 2021.
It is also a major earner for the club, bringing in about $30,000 which is poured back in to the community to support groups and initiatives.
Lions president Ron Lamb said many properties approached for this year’s event just simply did not have the rabbits.
‘‘Many of [farmers and run holders] say there are no rabbits on their property — they hired rabbiters and have got it under control, and they have laid pindone.’’
It was disappointing to cancel the event, especially after a combination of Covid-19 red traffic light restrictions and elevated fire risk forced its cancellation last year, Mr Lamb said.
‘‘It’s a real shame . . .but we understand the reasons why many of the farmers and run holders felt less enthusiastic about the project.’’
But bunnies should not get too comfortable — the shoot is set to return in 2024.