Lions cancel annual rabbit hunt

A perfect storm resulting in the cancellation of the Easter Bunny Hunt causes bunnies to breathe a sigh of relief.

The combination of the recent shift to Covid-19 red light restrictions, increased fire risk and changes in the way farmers approach pest management has meant that the annual fundraiser for the Lions Club of Alexandra is no not viable to organize, according to the organizers.

The event attracts between 190 and 220 hunters from across the South Island and creates a major dent in the area’s pest population – nearly 12,000 rabbits were culled last year.

It brings in approximately $30,000, funds that the Lions club uses to support community groups and initiatives.

Club secretary and Easter Bunny Hunt organizer Guy Harris said the decision to cancel was unanimous.

The club intended to hold it as a vaccine switch event in line with Covid-19 traffic light requirements. However, it would have been difficult to meet the 100-person limit imposed by the switch to red.

Once people left to their assigned properties, organizers would have struggled to ensure the limit was adhered to, Mr Harris said.

The predicted Easter fire risk has also been increased due to “phenomenal growth”.

“The fire hazard that’s predicted for Easter, we don’t want vehicles with hot exhausts setting off the grass we had two years ago.”

Many of the landowners the club spoke to had also indicated that they were initiating poisoning programs to control pests and that hunting would not have access to these properties.

“It wasn’t really viable to run,” Mr. Harris said.

The cancellation was a blow to the Lions Club as it followed news that this year’s Goldfields Cavalcade would not take place.

The two events accounted for 95% of the club’s annual fundraising.

“[The Easter Bunny Hunt] is one of our biggest incomes and it is the community that will lose out.

“It’s really awful.”

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